The 8th & I Reunion Association
An organization of Marines
who served at
8th & I Streets, S.E.,
Headquarters and Service Company
For an excellent article in the August 2006 issue of Leatherneck Magazine on the essential role played by the H&S Company groundskeepers, click here.
H & S Officer Awarded the Silver Star
On March 3, 2003 Col. Truman Crawford passed away. He was well known to several generations of Barracks Marines during his 33-year tenure at the Barracks. Prior to his U.S.M.C. service, Col. Crawford served in the U.S. Air Force with its Drum and Bugle Corps. The tribute below appears on the web site of the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps Association.
The USMC Drum and Bugle Corps plays at the burial of Col. Crawford
THE "OLD CORPS"
Ron Pierson (1959-61) practices lighting for an Evening Parade
The Electric Shop (including a Mr. Kelly, a civilian), led by G/Sgt Carrigan
Ron Pierson at the Front Gate
(Items submitted by Ron Pierson)
H & S Company Personnel (1961)
In 1947, McQueen joined the United States Marine Corps and was quickly promoted to Private First Class and assigned to an armored unit. Initially, he reverted to his prior rebelliousness, and as a result was demoted to private seven times. He went UA (unauthorized absence) by failing to return after a weekend pass had expired. He instead stayed away with a girlfriend for two weeks, until the shore patrol caught him. He resisted arrest and as a result spent 41 days in the brig.
After this, McQueen resolved to focus his energies on self-improvement and embraced the Marines' discipline . He saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea. Late 1940's, he was assigned to the H & S Company Guard Section at 8th & I, where he performed honor guard duties, including guarding then-U.S. President Harry Truman's yacht (SEQUOIA). McQueen served until 1950 when he was honorably discharged .
ROBERT ARMBRUSTER'S H & S COMPANY MEMORIES
10-23-12 ..... When I returned from Vietnam staging through Okinawa I noticed a sign to apply for Barracks duty. You had to be at least 6 foot tall and since I met that qualification and was breathing, I applied and sat for an interview. Once home in Houston I received new orders to report to the Barracks. Since I had a background in broadcasting, I was assigned to H&S Company, Special Services Unit. I handled the news rag, educational reimbursements, parade duties (parking details) and part time announcing. I also filled in with special services activities such as issuing equipment, cleaning and ordering new equipment. We were located in the gym above the band offices and the press shop (steam presses for the uniforms which was next to the post guard office). We had a basketball court, a weight room, an equipment room (located in attic type storage area up some steep stairs and enclosing in chicken wire) and a head with showers. We showed movies in the E-club in the basement of the band wing, next to the PX and barbershop) and had a bowling alley in the Navy Yard. Chesty III was just being phased out and Chesty IV was coming on board. A sergeant, first name of Bill from Detroit (can't recall last name) was the dog handler when I arrived. He discharged shortly after I arrived in June of 69 and his job was taken over by a Sgt Jim (J.E.) Bailey from Fresno, California. Jim was a tall, trim Marine who looked great coming across the parade deck with Chesty. The new pup was about the death of him as he was difficult to train. Jim was constantly worried that Colonel Graham would take a pound out of his backside should Chesty do some stupid during a parade. Chesty did like to stop at the most inappropriate time to relieve himself. The other persons I remember from Special Services were a Corporal Stanley unk last name and a Corporal Powell, a young 1st lieutenant named Howland and a mustang captain whose name escapes me. The mustang was a great guy with wonderful insight. Lt. Howland ( I believe I got his name correct) was a bit concerned about our taking care of business in the office. He finally learned that when you gave this group a task, we always came through and made him look good.
Two more memories that stand out……An old civilian who cut hair in the basement of the band building (when you enter the gate, the building along the right side). He was a crusty old guy with great stories. Can't recall his name for the life of me but I left a lot of my hair on his floor. (The old "crusty" barber's last name was Jones. We all addressed him as "Jonesie". Great guy for 60 second high and tight haircuts that cost 50 cents. (Submitted by Marty "Jake" Jacobsen, MCI Co 1968-69)
Second, was the press shop in the archway just past the band office and before the post guard detachment. This shop was hot always even when we had a nice bit of cool weather. The shop was manned by a Corporal Grabowski who was from New York. Great guy who would move heaven and earth to ensure that his Marines had the sharpest uniforms going.
When I first arrived I remember walking in the gate and thinking this place must be full of memories. It was and they continue to be built on year by year. I lived in the squad bay above the H&S offices. The H&S offices were just past the mess hall in the archway. If I remember correctly the Personnel Office (s-1) was just past H&S. Personnel is where we had the tape machine that played the recorded announcements and citations read for that evening's parade. I sat there many a night following the script in the event the tape broke or the tape machine malfunctioned. The Iwo material was read on site.
Don't know where these folks are except for Stanley Powell who ended up in Houston working for Southwestern Bell (now ATT). Have tried to locate Jim Bailey but to no avail as well as Grabowski.
The Barracks presented me with opportunities and numerous eye opening events that I had never witnessed before nor would I have witnessed had I returned to Camp Pendleton. Once I discharged on July 1 of 1971, I returned to Houston, joined the Houston Police Department. I served in patrol, SWAT, Hostage Negotiations and promoted to Detective working in Robbery. I obtained my undergraduate degree and law degree going part time over the years. I retired in 1993 and became staff counsel for the Houston Police Officers' Union. I will remain here as long as God allows it. I have a wonderful wife and son and have ever so blessed in this life.
As my favorite congressman states: That's the way it is.
For God, Country, Corps and Texas,
Robert A. Armbruster, 8th & I, H & S Company, 1969-1971, Houston, TX
GREG SOLOWAY'S MEMORIES OF H & S COMPANY
10-23-12 ... Hello 8th & I Marine Bob Armbruster, H & S Co., 1969-1971, Houston, TX
I REMEMBER YOU DURING THIS TIME, I TO WENT THROUGH OKINAWA, AFTER TWO TOURS IN VIET NAM WITH 3RD MAR DIV. REPORTED TO 8TH & I IN OCT 1969 AND STAYED UNTIL JULY 1971.
I WORKED FOR THAT OLD MUSTANG CAPTAIN. CAPT. KELLER. CAPT. KELLER WAS HEAD OF LEGAL DEPT. MY DAILY DUTY WAS WORKING WITH THE F.B.I ON ALL MARINE WHITE HOUSE TOP SECRET CLEARANCES. MY POST WAS THE COMMANDANT HOUSE DURING PARADES AND SPECIAL EVENTS ALONG WITH TUES. AT IWO MONUMENT. SGT. CURT GREGORY AND SGT. FAIRLEY WERE IN THE COLOR GUARD ALSO FROM H&S Co.
I JUST RECENTLEY RETIRED. I SPENT 40 YEARS WORKING WITH THE METAL'S INDUSTRY AND THE DEPT OF DEFENSE DEVELOPING METAL POWDERS FOR COUNTERMEASURES, FLARES, AND GROUND ORDNANCE.
SEMPER FI !!
GREG SOLOWAY, Sgt., 8th & I, H & S Co., 1969-1971, Citrus Springs, FL
DAVE "DB" WRIGHT'S MEMORIES OF H & S COMPANY
10-23-12 ...Hey John,
I was a damn proud Member of H&HS Co during the time I was assigned the D&B Jan 65 through late 69 or early 70. H&HS Co was the unsung hero's of the Barracks who made the Barracks work. They did all the dirty lifting and hauling things that made the entire Barracks have the shine that the visitor's always noted. Before the permanent bleachers they sat them up every week for the parades and then tore them down. And who can forget checking in and meeting "Pop" Sterling!!! I was a proud Vietnam hash mark Corporal with over 2 years in grade when I checked and had to find MSgt Sterling in Maintenance to complete my check in form. I marched into the maintenance shop and noticed an older gray headed may wearing a nearly worn out old herringbone dungaree cap, a khaki shift with no rank insignia and herringbone dungaree's with boon docker's. He was sitting on a stool whittling on a stick. I asked this "old civilian" where I could find Master Sergeant Sterling? He never looked up and asked who wanted to see him. I gave him my rank and name. He then asked why I wanted to see him and I stated to check in and get my check in sheet signed off. He asked me where I was coming from and I began to get a little testy at this damn civilian questioning me, but restrained myself and told him. This questioning went on until I finally got pissed off and informed him that I was a Corporal of Marines and had asked him, a civilian employee of the Corps to which I had no need to answer questions of, and to direct me to MSgt Sterling at once. He sort of grinned and asked to see my sign in sheet and I allowed him to have it and damned if he didn't sign in a scrawl. Well I was happy to have a signature, even though he was obviously no MSgt of Marines and marched out to turn in my completed sheet. While in S-1 turning in the sheet I got to talking with the Gunny Admin Chief and was telling him about that signature and my incident with the damn old civilian. He go that smile from ear to ear that let any half bright Cpl realized he had said something funny and should really find out what it was. So I drew him into a conversation about MSgt Sterling. Was I ever embarrassed to learn that I had indeed met the really famous MSgt Pop Sterling and had really put my foot in my mouth, as usual! Back down to the maintenance shop I marched and found Pop sitting on the same stool still whittling and I apologized for my behavior towards him, trying to explain my confusion. He kicked a stool over and invited me to sit down which I gratefully did. We talked a little while and I became a great fan of this fine old Marine SNCO. It was a feeling that only grew over time as I got to know him better and better. I even have a couple of stories about Pop stored in my hip pocket of memories.
Back in those days when ever the President decided to go to Camp David all of a sudden the Duty NCO's, at least in H&HS Co would run through the squad bays taking names of Marines in them to assign them to go up to Camp David to augment the guard up there. It was not considered a good duty for H&HS troops so as soon as the word spread the DUTY NCO was doing this we all fled via out escape routes. Mine was either out the sally port off the mess hall, or out the window down in the Maintenance shop and I always escaped!
The Barracks squad bays had no air conditioning back then and "Parade Atmosphere" was set on parade nights around 1600 hrs. This meant all windows shut tightly and all blinds turned so the lower edge pointed out. We took showers and talcum powdered down and laid as quietly as we could on our racks with all the fans turned up on high to try to keep from sweating. Our Brass was polished with polish but was not wiped off until we dressed just before parade time. The D&B Formed up in the central 3rd deck tower. The Rampart Buglers who played a fanfare at the beginning of the parade climbed wooden stairs to a platform in the Drum Major's Office and they one bugler climbed up through a trap door onto the roof, while another climbed up into the attic. Then we formed a line and passed up all the bugles to the roof and then each bugler climbed up onto the roof out of sight. When it came time to play our fanfare we marched forward three steps and immediately spot lights would hit our eyes and we would play our fanfare during a quarter turn from the waist to the left as we ended the fanfare and them smartly brought out bugles down and froze. Then the lights went off and we reversed the procedure to get back down off the roof. The first time I did this standing on the front row of the buglers and the lights hit my eyes I felt like I was going to fall over the rampart! It really was a hell of a shock to your vertigo system the first time. Then we hurried down through MCI's squad bays and down the ladder well adjacent to the CO's Office and out onto the arcade hidden by the bushes and parade activities at the center of the parade field and we quickly and quietly joined the rest of the D&B already on the parade field. Very few members of the audience noticed this movement.
After the D&B's concert at the center walk most of the soprano buglers changed from a "G-D" bugle to a B flat- F Bugler and rejoined the rear of the Marine Band, while the rest of us quietly sent up the MCI ladder well and then through the squad bays down to the D&B Squad Bay at the other end of the Barracks (south end), where we changed and left via the Maintenance back door and went on liberty while the parade was passing in review. One evening while going through the H&HS pool/recreation room Cpl Carroll "RIP" Carson (now deceased) noticed one of the venetian blinds was ajar and not at proper parade atmosphere. He tried to correct it and discovered the trouble was with the top of the mechanism. Good old RIP climbed up onto the radiator's wooden cover and reached up to free the mechanism. The Silent Drill Team was just finishing their performance and the lights were coming up when the whole blind came lose and crashing down just as the lights lit up the entire Barracks front. Yes there stood good old RIP, legs spread wide and arms spread wide with a look of pure horror on his face in his skivvies drawers and T-Shirt returning the look of the startled crowd! The incident did make the after parade critique! Of course RIP explained what had happened profusely to one and all and a great many of the Barracks Officers including our Company Command then 1stLt Ron Christmas! As RIP was well known to all of them as a good Marine that was the end of it, except of course for all our ribbing of him!
Nothing happened at the Barracks that did not involve H&HS Co troops in some manner to make it happen and every H&HS troop that I knew through those years was damn proud of what they did to make the Barracks, Center House, Building 58, the Officer's Row and the Commandant's House run!
David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, H & S Co., Drum & Bugle Corps, 1965-1974, Alpharetta, GA
Bob Manchester's Memories of OP" STERLING, 8TH & I, H & S COMPANY, CA. 1937-1964
NOTE: Bob Manchester, Esq., passed away on 11-16-12.
COL. GEORGE NAVADEL'S MEMORIES OF MSGT L.E. "POP" STERLING, 8TH & I, H & S COMPANY, CA. 1937-1964
7-10-13 ... Hi,
I would like to tag on to Bob Manchester's comments on the 8th & “I” legend, MSgt. Pops Sterling. Pops location tour date at the Barracks was circa 1937. The reason for his remarkable tenure is best told as Bob recounted. I was blessed with a personalized pin-up photo of a DC “celebrity” Julie Gipson after her dinner visit as my guest at Center House. When I showed the photo to our Barracks maintenance chief, Pops was most happy to provide a frame. For the rest of my tour he would call me aside when I was Officer of the Day and present me with cut outs of cuties from his subscription of the Police Gazette. Pops was definitely a lady's man. His last child was born when Pops was 63. I believe he retired when he reached social security benefit age '65 - sometime after I left the Barracks for sea duty.
PS: On a bet at Center House, I invited Julie Gipson to an evening meal at the Mess. Surprisingly, Julie showed up after her unveiling of the '62 Buick at a DC dealership. The Barracks Guard (both sections) donned Blues and formed a cordon as I escorted her to her car at the end of the evening. Each Sgt of the Guard had found excuses to march mascot Chesty through the Center House bar for look sees. My reward was to receive a lovely inscribed pin-up photo of Julie. Enter Pops Sterling. He enthusiastically fashioned a frame so Julie could be displayed for appropriate occasions. From then on, when I was Officer of the Day, Pops would hail me and pass on his pinup clippings from his personal monthly copy of the Police Gazette. Again, MSgt Sterling was definitely a lady's man.
Col. George Navadel, 8th & I, Ceremonial Guard Company, 2nd Platoon, 1960-1963 / 30 Years In The Corps / Silver Star - Vietnam, Vista, CA
DAVID "DB" WRIGHT'S MEMORIES OF MSGT L.E. "POP" STERLING, 8TH & I, H & S COMPANY, CA. 1937-1964
7-10-13 ... At one point in time Pop fell victim to CMC's decree that everyone at the Barracks had to be transferred out at the end of his regular tour of duty. So on the appointed date a staff car showed up picked up Pop, who had duly checked out with his orders for transfer to Quantico. He was driven down to Quantico checked in and received another set of orders transferring him back to 8th & I. He got back into his assigned staff car and was transported back to the Barracks where he checked back in and began another tour of duty at the Barracks.
I was once told a great story about Pop having been passed over for MSgt E-8. That evening when CMC arrived home in his limo Pop was sitting on the front steps whittling and CMC greeted him. A couple of minutes after entering CMC House CMC came back out and asked Pop if he knew why there was no electricity in CMC House. Pop kept right on whittling and said something to the effect that he was trying to puzzle it out but that it seemed to him to be a problem for a MSgt E-8 and not a MSgt E-7. CMC asked Pop to get the electricity turned back on and he would personally check into his promotion the next day at HQMC. The next evening when CMC got out of his limo Pop was sitting on the front steps whittling and CMC asked if there was electricity in CMC House and Pop asked him if he had checked into his promotion warrant. CMC retrieved it from his briefcase and promoted POP on the spot.
There were so many stories about Pop when I first checked into the Barracks in January of 65 it fascinated me to no end. I became about as good a friend as a Corporal could get with him and found him to be a really fascinating Marine besides a really odd duck. Of course there was always the story that Pop had destroyed the blueprints for all the electrical circuits, plumbing and other parts of the Barracks that made it work to make sure he wasn't transferred. I was never able to confirm that one, or get Pop to fess up to it. But he surly didn't suffer people who were full of themselves, talked down to you or he simply had no use for and would run them off very quickly.
I had always wished that he had still been around when Col Graham checked in as the Barracks CO because that would have been a great show to have watched and I would have put my money on Pop!
David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, H & S Company, Drum & Bugle Corps And U.S. Marine Band, 1965-1974 / Vietnam veteran, Alpharetta, GA
Hello John and All 8th & “I” Marines:
I, too, had the privilege of serving with “Pop” Sterling back when I was stationed at the barracks from 1960 thru 1962 in H & S Company (Special Services Accountant). I think all of these stories about “Pop” Sterling are probably true as he was quite a unique Marine, although first meeting “Pop”, you would never figure he was a Marine. In fact, my former and late father-in-law Milton Taylor, worked directly for “Pop” for many years back in the fifties and sixties as a civilian electrician, and he told me some inside stories about “Pop” that I found fascinating and very much in accordance with all of the unique stories about “Pop” that I had heard from my comrades at the barracks.
One of the first stories that my father-in-law told me was that “Pop” did remove, or conceal, all utility and original construction schematics of the barracks from his files in order for anyone needing repairs or construction, of any kind at the barracks, to be required to come thru him for these repairs for approval. For the two years I served at the barracks, I never saw “Pop” Sterling wear any other uniform than his wrinkled utilities. And he also never wore his utilities according to the USMC dress code for the utility uniform, as he always wore his utility blouse untucked, when back in 1960, the uniform code required our utility blouses be tucked inside our trousers. He also never wore his trousers bloused according to USMC requirements to blouse all utility trousers inside of your boots. He also maintained a hair style that was certainly not “high and tight”, and I never saw “Pop” wearing a cover.
“Pop” was a very salty Marine, and all Marines who served at the barracks during the many years of “Pop's” reign usually knew about “Pop” Sterling, and his legendary stories. “Pop” Sterling certainly had an inside influence with anyone in the chain of command at headquarters Marine Corps. I never wanted to develop a close relationship with “Pop”, due to his unofficial influence with the top level command of the Marine Corps. We all love “Pop”, of course.
MAJ. GEN. GENE DEEGAN'S MEMORIES OF 8TH & I MARINE MSGT L.E. "POP" STERLING, H & S COMPANY, CA. 1937-1964
7-13-13 ... More Pop Sterling stories.
I can verify George Navadel's picture frame comments. I have two frames on the wall of my home office today - one with my commission certificate for my appointment as a 2nd Lt and the other with my promotion to MajGen. All other certificates are behind the MajGen certificate. Pop made the frames for me. Today, you would be locked up for this.
When I was CO of H&S Company, I had the privilege of awarding Pop with a certificate in lieu of his ??? Good Conduct medal. He indicated he would have had more but he had run into some trouble early in his career.
Pop did not like to wear boots and wore dress shoes with his utilities. I understand that when BrigGen Doehler (Lt. Col. William F. Doehler) was the XO of the barracks, he put out a barracks bulletin/order prohibiting wearing dress shoes with utilities specifically targeting Pop. Pop Sterling promptly obtained a light duty chit from a doctor authorizing him to wear dress shoes!!!! When the company returned from the Cuban Missile Crisis, we had an “all hands” barracks formation. Pop attended in his dress shoes.
I believe that John Donovan told me that Pop requested the afternoon off to attend his wife's funeral.
Gene A. Deegan, Maj. Gen., U.S. Naval Academy graduate-1958, U.S.M.C. 1958-1993, Tampa, FL
8th & I, 1962-1965, Ceremonial Guard Company, H&S Company, MCI Company-Infantry Course Writer Unit, and Parade Adjutant.
9-4-17 .... Jeff Halliday's Memories Of MSgt L.E. "Pop" Sterling, H & S Co., ca. 1937-1964
I met "Pop "Sterling in 1963. I was sent to the electric shop on a work detail, reported to the NCO in charge there at the time and he told me to stand by and he would be back in a few minutes. As I waited Pop Sterling walked by and asked what I was doing. I explained I was told to stand by for a bit. Well, he said come with me and I followed him to a reefer and was instructed to get a jack hammer and remove the entire floor! My nice day in the electric shop had just turned into a disaster! Fortunately, I never had any further dealings with the famous Pop Sterling and I believe he retired the following year. The one story that was going around at that time was that he had been passed over for promotion and he marched over to the Commandant's quarters and told them he wanted to talk to "Dave" (Commandant General David Shoup) and that after the conversation he received his promotion. Who knows!
Submitted by 8th & I Marine Jeffrey Halliday, Ceremonial Guard Company, 1963-1966, Upper Black Eddy, PA ...........................................................................
10-3-19 ... DENNY HARRIS' LATE-1950'S MEMORIES OF M/SGT L.E. "POP" STERLING, H & S CO.
John......Pop Sterling.....what a character and what a story. He had an office, of sorts, down in the basement on the mess hall end of the building. He was probably the sloppiest Marine anywhere before or since at 8th and I. When Colonel Chapman reported on board everyone made an attempt to keep Sterling away from the new Colonel. Back in those days everyone at the barracks made an attempt to look squared away in our utilities even spit shining boon dockers and wearing starched utilities......not Pop Sterling! He claimed he had callouses and corns on his feet and boon dockers were just too uncomfortable, so he wore old beat up low quarters with the sloppiest set of utilities you could imagine. Finally when Chapman got a good look at him and asked the post Sergeant Major "who in the hell is that and what does he do here?" The SgtMaj said, "he is the main grounds keeper and keeps track of all the electrical systems, knows where all the fuses are located, knows where all the the plumbing connections are, knows where all the sewage connections are....he knows everthing about this base and has been here over 15 years". Chapman said "I want him out of here...now!" Within a week ole Pop had orders for re-assignment to Quantico and he was gone! The next morning, Chapman arrived at his office and the lights would not come on. Everyone in H & S started looking for fuse boxes or whatever to get the Colonels lights on and for three days they worked on them. By the end of the week the officers head would not flush and all the "stuff" flowed out on the floor and again, no one knew anything the antiquated sewage system.....but old Pop would have known. Finally at the end of the week the Colonel told the SgtMaj..... "I give up, bring him back" At the beginning of the following week Ole Master Sergeant Sterling was back on board with a smile you could not have gotten off with a claw foot hammer!
This all happened in 1958 and I left in August of 58....I just have to assume that a few years later there was a Master sergeant Sterling (Ret.) running around D.C. in a sloppy set of civilian gear.
Submitted by Denny "Mustang" Harris, Ceremonial Guard Company, 1957-1958, Col., U.S. Army Reserves / retired in 1977, 30 years, Lexington, KY
10-8-19 ... COL. BOWLIN'S MEMORIES OF 8TH & I MARINE M/SGT "POP" STERLING
An additional thought.... One reason “Pop” had a priority assignment at the Barracks was that he knew all the essentials of keeping the Barracks operating,
i.e., electrical connections, pipes and furnace in CMC quarters and many more secrets. When asked at a MSgt screening board how he felt about the Corps, his response was “I like it, I think I'll make it a career”!
Submitted by Col. Jerry T. "Buzz" Bowlin, MCI Company and Barracks Adjutant, 1959-1962, retired from the Corps in 1982, San Antonio, TX
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