MSG Copenhagen, 4 June 1954
The photo above shows the official opening of the new American Embassy in Copenhagen. Of course the embassy's Marines raised the flag to mark the official occasion.
The sergeant you see with the three up and three down [right] was Fred Holmes. Fred had made the Inchon Landing, and was a heavy drinker who liked to fight, especially dogfaces. The Top is MSgt. Dilworth. We called him "Daddy Dilworth" (not to his face) because he was always worried about his Marines. Top thought we drank and partied too much.
That's me [photo, above] in the rear-left, standing back by the pillar (beneath blood stripe), holding the exalted rank of Pfc. and wearing my National Defense Ribbon and Expert shooting badge. I look like I'm 12 years old. Actually I had turned 18 two days before the ceremony.
Prior to the new building we stood watch in an older building, near Kongens Nytorv, that was shared by other Danish businesses. We stood watch in civilian clothes and wore a shoulder holster for our .38s. The Germans, during their occupation of Denmark, had used the building and there was still concertina wire strung across the roofs.
One night at 0200, one of the Marines thought he saw someone behind him in the dark, so he pulled his weapon and fired. He put a neat bullet ding in one of the code room's safe doors. That's what he wrote in the log but, of course, the Top was no dummy and chewed his ass for "fooling around. You idiot! You could have killed yourself!" He'd been practicing his fast draw. Years later, while living in Copenhagen after retirement from the Corps and working with the American Embassy, I asked a friend in Communications if one of their safes had a bullet dent in it, but he didn't see any.
I had a court-marital during this tour because of a barroom brawl between Marines and some soldiers on leave from Germany. Stupid? You better believe it! Really set me back for a number of years. They tore up my new warrant for sergeant and I was almost in tears when I cut the blood stripe from my blue trousers and changed my chevrons from Cpl. to Pfc. again.
I was court-martialed by a captain who came up from Paris to do the job. This incident came back to me in a strange way years later.
In the late 60s as a senior captain in my squadron at El Toro, I and two other captains were designated as courts-martial officers for a period of time. On my first case (a LCpl. who'd been UA), I was studying his SRB while he stood in the passageway at parade-rest with the 1stSgt. It suddenly dawned on me that years before it was me standing out there waiting to go in before the captain. Does fate play a part in our lives?
I've written about "fate" before in our forum: about the two CH-46 helicopters we maintained at Dong Ha and one morning the crews switched aircraft. That morning one aircraft crashed and burned, killing all on board. One crew lived because of that switch; the other crew died.
Here's another example. When I attended MSG School with Fox Company at Henderson Hall in Wash. D.C., I asked for assignment to posts behind the Iron Curtain. The detachments in Moscow, Budapest, and Warsaw all needed watch-standers. Copenhagen did not.
However, just before we graduated, a Marine came on duty while drunk at Copenhagen and he was immediately relieved. Replacement needed right now! Somehow Pfc. Tom Mix was designated as his replacement.
If that Marine hadn't been drinking that night, I would not have met my wife Bente — we will have been married 46 years in September. And probably I would not have been court-martialed, either.
That's how life goes.
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The author: Thomas Mix joined the Marine Corps in Sept. 1952 as a 16 year old. Served mostly with Marine Aviation. Vietnam in 1965 with H&MS-16, again in 1966-67 with HMM-165. Marine Security Guard with the American Embassy, Copenhagen, 1954-55. Married a wonderful Danish girl then; still happily married. Commissioned as a Warrant Officer 1962, retired with the rank of Captain, October 1972.
Click HERE to eyeball pix of the author at war