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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
Gny Sgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437-PISC)--1972

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The Last "Old China" Marine ?

June 11 2007 at 12:48 PM
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  (Login chinasearch)
from IP address 206.248.211.184

Over Memorial Day I had the opportunity to visit Myrtle Beach SC. While heading out, an old gent was walking by and saw the Semper Fi sticker in my truck window. He asked if I was in the Corps, Yes Sir ! Out went the hand with a reply " so was I !" I looked into, what I learned later were 93 year old eyes, and jokingly asked " What were you, a Horse Marine ? " The answer "close a China Marine !" You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was speaking to a "China Marine" who enlisted in the Corps at 15 in 1931 and retired a Lt. Col. in 1967. Ski, as he insisted I call him, invited me for a visit the next day. Three hours after arriving and pouring over photos in his album from his China Service, I became friends with this old Marine. I shook the hand, that shook the hand of Smedley Butler, had Chesty Puller as a friend and called several past commandants by thier first name, calling one a "silly ass" !
After searching around, I learned that a few retired officers of the Corps, had and have, the same thought I had, Ski is a "legend" in his own right and was called a "National Treasure" by one retired Major, who knows him. I learned that Marines, feared Ski and would now want to honor him.
The Old China Marine, is retired Lt. Col. Peter Paul Yezerski, USMC Food Services. I have received some documents of Ski, from his family and found he has seen duty starting after Parris Island in China on the USS Tulsa a patrol gunboat, at the time flagship of the China Fleet. Saw duty on land during the Sino Japanese controversy guarding the International Settlement in Shanghi China and ran up the Yangtze River to assist the USS Panay. Saw duty in Nicaragua and then on the Gitmo, Wallis Island, Upolu, Western Samoa, Guadalcanal and into Melbourne. A map on his wall was peppered with red pins spanning the world of places he has been.
Contacting the Historical Branch USMC Quantico I plan an Oral interview of Ski for the record, to be saved for research at MCU Research, Quantico.
Ski and his family have been busy preparing for my visit pulling out old files and memories from his service in the Corps. Can't wait to see documentation of a Marine Officer some call the Smorgasbord King.
My query here is;
Is this the last of the "Old" China Marines of the 1930's?
Anybody ever heard of him or have any info they would like to share?
Hopefully, Ski will be attending the China Marine Assoc. reunion this coming fall, Ski now thought to be the Oldest known China Marine. I plan on staying in close contact with him
Thanks Semper Fi !
Jim Donovan

 

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