Lejeune Marines Make Friends on African "Goodwill" Tour

 

A Marine Landing Force, commanded by Maj. H. Richard Kurth, Jr. of the 2nd Division, is now actively engaged in the President's People-to-People program in West Africa as well as other South Atlantic countries. This goodwill cruise, aimed at cementing U.S. relations, is termed SOLANT AMITY and is under the sponsorship of the US Department of State. Overall command is vested in Rear Admiral Allan L. Reed, USN, Commander, South, Atlantic Force. The Landing Force is composed of Marine and Navy personnel from the 2nd Division, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. It embarked at Morehead City aboard the USS HERMITAGE (LSD-34) and the USS GRAHAM COUNTY (LST-1176) on November 29, 1960.

After visits to Trinidad, BWI and Recife, Brazil, the ships arrived at Monrovia, Liberia on the morning of January 5th. Helicopters from MAG-26, commanded by Maj. Dock H. Pegues, USMC, staged a flypast over the city as other Landing Force personnel mustered on the ships' flight decks while the HERMITAGE fired a 21-gun salute to the Republic of Liberia.
On January 6th, Marine elements participated in a "march past" before the executive mansion. Later the same day, they took part in a parade-review together with the Liberian Frontier Forces at Monrovia's Barclay Training Center. Following the parade, a drill team from Company "G," Sixth Marines, drew continuos applause from assembled Liberians as it executed it precision marching.
Highlight of the Landing Force's visit to Monrovia was an amphibious demonstration witnessed by Liberian President William V. S. Tubman, US Ambassador Elbert G. Matthews, and 10,000 other spectators.
Preceded by a band concert, an air show, and a demonstration of squad organization, assault troops, commanded by Capt. Kenneth J. Skipper, USMC, dashed from LVT's onto a tropical beachhead. The main attack culminated in an assault on a fortified position, using flame-throwers, rocket launchers and demolitions. Helicopters were used for external lifts and evacuation of a mock casualty. A static display of equipment which followed elicited tremendous interest and excitement from Liberian spectators who literally swarmed about and over the various exhibit.
At the conclusion of the program President Tubman was presented with a replica of the Iwo Jima statue and a cigarette lighter personalized by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

 


RUBBER TREE Pfc Anthony Somma, Cpl. Andrew G. Anderson and HM2 Fetterly of the Landing Force SOLANT AMITY, watch a rubber tree tapped at the Firestone Plantation near Harbel, Liberia.

 

In a later demonstration, Marine Pathfinders led by 1st Lieutenant John Stockwell scored an historic first, both fro the Marine Corps and the Republic of Liberia. According to local officials, the Pathfinders made history when they became the first persons ever to jump by parachute in the Republic. In all, 17 jumps were viewed by hundreds of Liberians., Many of whom walked several miles to see the event.
The Landing Force pistol team, featuring the marksmanship of Maj. Robert L. Gover and MSgt. Henry A Peterson, scored another victory to maintain its perfect record by defeating Liberian National Police Shooters, 1,334 to 730. Major Gover, executive officer of the Landing Force, is a distinguished Marksman, while Sergeant Peterson has been high man in two of the matches to date.
Aboard the HERMITAGE, a Marine Honor Guard, commanded by 1st Lieutenant William S. Thompson III, was paraded fro visiting dignitaries. Among those invited to inspect the guard in Monrovia were President Tubman, US Ambassador Matthews, and Liberian Speaker of the House Henries.

A Marine basketball five took two games from the top Monrovia team, one of them by a single point. In both contests, Pfc. David A. Tindell was top scorer. An unexpected sidelight to the games occurred when the team responded to an opponent's invitation to "stop by the house for refreshments." Upon arrival it developed that the "house' was the executive mansion and the opponent had been William V. S. Tubman Jr., son of the President of Liberia.
The warm hospitality of the Liberians was evidenced by the many social invitations the Marines received. Majors Kurth, Gover and Pegues were among those who attended a luncheon at the executive mansion as guests of President Tubman while other Landing Force personnel took part in the soiree held at Monrovia's city hall in honor of the visitors. Marines also took advantage of tours and dances at the Bomi Hills Mines, as well as responding to numerous invitations, both for personnel and official, to visit local homes.

STORMING BEACH Assault Troops of Company "G," Sixth Marines, storm the beach at Monrovia, Liberia, during a Landing Forces amphibious demonstration attended by President Tubman of Liberia and US Ambassador Elbert C. Matthews.

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Taken from the 16Feb61 issue of the Camp Lejeune Globe, courtesy of copy provided by former Gunnery Sergeant Charles LaMarr who died 19Dec2011.


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