Saturday, July 21, 2007

South Vietnam, The American Waterloo: 'Tell My Wife Something'-Marines In Viet Missing Hoosier Hospitality

November 28, 1966

Da Nang, South Viet Nam--There are a couple of United States Marines here who claim Indianapolis as their home. And each wishes he were there.

Sgt. Glenn N. Grouse's wife Cynthia and their five children live in Indianapolis. Crouse is a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School and has been a Marine 13 years.

Maj. Vernon L. Sylvester, just arrived in Viet Nam after serving three years as a recruiting officer in Indianapolis. His wife Luann and their two daughters have adopted Indianapolis as their home. Crouse, currently administrative chief at the DaNang press center, has been in VietNam 10 months, and he hopes to be back in Indianapolis by February.

"I was just 17 years old when I went in," Crouse said, "and it's my career. I've always wanted to be a Marine."

Crouse proved to be quite helpful to the correspondents. There were few things they asked for that he couldn't come up with...notebooks, foot powder, carbon paper, and insect repellent, to list a few.

Maj. Sylvester, 40 years old, has 18 years of his life invested in the Corps. He entered the ranks as an enlisted man. After his first hitch was up, he went to college and then rejoined the Corps. In 1950 he was commissioned as an officer and saw action in Korea.

His present job is commander of H and S companies, the support element for Gen. Lewis Walt, Commander of the Third Marine Amphibious Forces.

Sylvester has more than 1,000 officers and men working with him.

Originally, the major called his home town West Chester, Pa., but he may make Indianapolis his permanent home. "I wasn't crazy about getting recruiting duty," he said, "but as long as I had to do it, I couldn't have found a better place than Indianapolis.

"I believe we made more friends there than any place we've been. We had so many friends that my wife and children wanted to stay there. I wish I could tell the people back in Indiana hello," the major said. "I really miss them."

"Hoosier hospitality is certainly no misnomer," he added.

Sgt. Crouse, in his 13 years of service, has been stationed in North Africa, Casablanca, Hong Kong, and at various bases in Europe and Spain. He's been married 10 years and he'll whip out pictures of his four sons and daughter at a moment's notice..

"I wish you'd tell my wife something for me," Crouse said. "Tell her Da Nang is off limits. I can't get off the base, and there's nothing to do here."

"And also tell her I'm staying out of trouble," he added with an impish grin.

Crouse is unlucky playing the little games Marines tinker with to see which of them will pay for the next round of drinks.

In five tries, Crouse lost three times. When he laid his money down the third time he said, "Boy am I glad my wife works. You guys are killing me."

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