National Geographic : 1950 Nov
650 National Geographic Photographer John E. Fletcher Marine Boots at Parris Island, South Carolina, Proudly Put on New Uniforms Already these recruits have donned forest-green trousers and jackets. Some try on cap frames, to be worn with summer or winter covers. Laid out before each man are shirts, underwear, shoes, gloves, and dungarees. A haircut "close to the bone" comes in a fledgling Leatherneck's first hours at boot camp. Such a Marine was young Lt. (now Brig. Gen.) Clayton C. Jerome. Once, flying over San Diego, he thought fast and saved his own neck, and those of people in the crowded city below. While practicing acrobatics high in the sky, the stick of his plane broke off at the socket. Rather than jump and let his runaway plane crash in the heart of San Diego, he chose to try to land. So he got out his handkerchief, jerked off his belt and necktie, with them lashed the stick back in its socket, and made a safe landing. He's the same Jerome who later, while naval attache in Latin America, risked his life in an amphibian to fly over treacherous jungles and down into the narrow Cuvuni River in Venezuela to rescue victims of a crash. At Cherry Point Air Station, in North Caro lina, I talked with Brig. Gen. L. H. M. San derson, another weather-beaten, tough old pilot. He told me how, as a youngster, he initiated dive bombing in Haiti. "That was years ago," he said. "We had few instruments. I rigged up a kind of sight on the nose of my open plane. Underneath I hung a 100-pound bomb, in an old mail sack with a puckering string. The outlaws were camped on steep hillsides. Flying level, it was hard to hit 'em; so we'd dive, right down the mountainside. At the right second I'd signal with my left hand, and the boy in the back seat would jerk our puckering string and drop the bomb out of the mail sack. It worked fine! A Stove Lid Serves as Armor "We had no armor then. They kept hit ting our plane, so I got me an old stove lid and sat on it. "That very day, ping! ping! ping! three Mauser balls hit that lid like bullets hitting rabbits in a shooting gallery. They stung the seat of my pants, but the old stove lid saved me." The first Marines I ever saw were guarding the American Legation at Peiping, soon after the Boxer Rebellion.* Many then were mounted on long-haired Mongolian ponies. For winter sport the men skated on frozen moats outside the old city walls or pushed themselves about on the Manchu ice sleds. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Causes That Led Up to the Siege of Peking," by W. A. P. Martin, February, 1901; and "Chinese 'Boxers,' " by Llewellyn James Davies, July, 1900.