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Legend and Lore of "Lou" Diamond

December 16 2003 at 11:20 AM
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Dick Gaines  (Login Dick Gaines)
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from IP address 65.41.13.123

 
MCB Quantico

Legend and lore of "Lou" Diamond
Today Diamond Hall is the venue of many command religious programs and activities as well as the base education office. It is also the former site of the base Public Affairs Office. However, it was originally built to serve as a club for Quantico's staff non-commissioned officers.

In determining which Marine would be most appropriate for the commemorative naming of the building, organizers selected one of the Corps' most, well, interesting SNCOs.

MGySgt. Leland "Lou" Diamond was not a Medal of Honor recipient. He was not famous for saving lives under fire or relentless pursuit of the enemy. However, his dedication to the Marine Corps through two world wars and his dedication in training young Marine recruits earned him Corpswide recognition. His name was even known to Commandant of the Marine Corps A.A. Vandegrift, who referred to Diamond as "The perfect Marine."

Diamond was born May 30, 1890, in Bedford, Ohio, as near as anyone could determine, as there were no official records. He enlisted in the Marine Corps July 25, 1917 at the age of 27, which was considerably older than most recruits. He had an easy-going personality, but tolerated no nonsense when there was a job to do. Early in his career he was dubbed "The Honker" due to his incredible, booming voice, which could be heard above all other noises - to include combat.

In one article written for The Globe at Camp Lejeune, N.C. in 1947, Marines who fought with Diamond in France called him "a human air-raid warning system" who would call out when rounds were incoming.

Diamond had a reputation as a cocky Marine who considered anybody with less than ten years in the Corps as "boots," regardless of their rank. At 5 feet, 11 inches and 200 pounds, Diamond enjoyed his intimidating stature, which caused more than one nervous youngster to salute him out of confusion.

Diamond saw action during World War I with the 6th Marines at Chateau Thierry, Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse Argonne. By then a sergeant, he marched to the Rhine with the Army of Occupation. At war's end, he returned to the United States and received an honorable discharge from the Corps.

But the civilian life was no challenge for the Marine at heart. Diamond was back in the Corps Sept. 23, 1921, and became an assistant armorer at Parris Island, S. C. By 1925, he had regained his sergeant's stripes. He became a gunnery sergeant in 1933 and master gunnery sergeant in 1939, at which time he was assigned to the Depot of Supplies at Philadelphia to help design a new infantry pack for Marines.

Following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Diamond shipped out to Guadalcanal with "H" Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was 52 years old. During World War II, Diamond, an expert with both 60mm and 81mm mortars, led a team of Marines whose accurate fire was credited as the strength behind many engagements in the Pacific.

Among the many anecdotes concerning his service is the story of the day he lobbed a mortar shell down the smoke stack of an off-shore Japanese cruiser on a dare from a fellow Marine. Whether this is true or not, Diamond is credited with driving that cruiser from the bay. Although his guns were too small to create any extensive damage, their constant and accurate pounding made it impossible for any crewmembers to leave the vessel.

An indication of Diamond's reputation among Marines was made in a letter of commendation for "outstanding performance of duty on Tulagi and Guadalcanal," from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Vandegrift wrote: "To every man in your company you were a counselor, an arbiter of disputes, and an ideal Marine. Your matchless loyalty and love of the Marine Corps and all it stands for, are known to hundreds of officers and men of this Division, and will serve as an inspiration to them on all the battlefields on which this Division may in the future be engaged."

According to another story written about Diamond in 1945, when he was presented with this letter by the commandant in person, Diamond was on liberty in Australia and did not have his dress uniform. Unabashed, he reported to the ceremony in his dungarees, claiming, "this was good enough to land here with."

"You look good enough in dungarees to me," the general reportedly said, and continued with the ceremony.

Diamond began experiencing physical disabilities on Guadalcanal and was evacuated by air against his wishes. Somehow, he acquired orders to board a supply ship for New Caledonia, where a friend furnished him with orders back to Guadalcanal. Upon his arrival, however, Diamond discovered that the 1st Marine Division had shipped out to Australia, 1,500 miles away. He made the trip, without orders, by hitchhiking rides on planes, ships and trains.

During Diamond's final years in the Corps, he served as an instructor at the Recruit Depot, Parris Island. He then transferred to Camp Lejeune and joined the 5th Training Battalion with the same duties.

Diamond retired Nov. 23, 1945, and returned to his home in Toledo, Ohio. He died at the Great Lakes, Illinois, Naval Training Center Hospital in September, 1951 and is buried in Sylvania, Ohio.

http://www.quantico.usmc.mil/welcome/diamond.htm
http://www.quantico.usmc.mil/welcome/diamond.htm


    
This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address 65.41.13.123 on Dec 16, 2003 11:22 AM


 
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Dick Gaines
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Gunny G Website: Lou Diamond...

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December 16 2003, 11:24 AM 


 
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Dick Gaines
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Lou Diamond: Ultimate Grief Counselor...

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December 16 2003, 2:35 PM 

From :
"Chris Bramley" <CWBRAMLEY@worldnet.att.net>

To :
<GunnyG@hotmail.com>

Subject :
Lou Diamond

Date :
Fri, 2 Nov 2001 23:03:17 -0500

Hi Gunny,

I am a former enlisted Marine - a Field Radio Operator in the Infantry and Gulf war vet. (I am giving serious consideration to re-enlisting in the Marine Reserves or National Guard these days).

Shortly after returning home from the (1st) Persian Gulf War I began dating the woman I would eventually marry. She was shocked when her father actually liked me - he had hated everyone she and her sisters had ever dated. Turns out he was an ex-Marine. He was fighting cancer at the time and would pass away within a year. During that time he told me a number of stories about his time in the Corps including a great one about Lou Diamond.

My father-in-law, Bill Dodge, enlisted in the Marines in early 1945 and was shipped off to Parris Island. At the time, the Corps was gearing up for the planned assault on mainland Japan. Because there were so many recruits in training, his platoon lived in GP tents throughout their training.

One day a recruit in his platoon cracked under the pressure. Sitting on his cot, the recruit loaded his rifle, put it in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The .30-06 blew his brains all over the tent and left a hole in the roof.

While the members of the platoon sat there too stunned to move, Lou Diamond walked into the tent and looked around. He yelled: "Any of you other ****birds want to shoot yourselves, have the courtesy to take it outside!" Then he ordered the platoon to clean up the mess, and walked away.

My father-in-law had to help mop up the blood and brains. The hole in the top of the tent never was fixed, he got wet every time it rained for the rest of boot camp.
_____________________________________

I think of this story whenever I hear of someone needing "grief counseling" or "sensitivity training." Lou Diamond was the ultimate grief counselor!

Chris Bramley

 
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Dick Gaines
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69.34.39.166

Diamond! (GyG's Marine Vignettes #49)

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December 17 2003, 2:38 PM 

Marine Vignettes # 49-52
Diamond!
By John W. Faust
October 7, 1998
(#49)


While I worked as a newsman at our local daily, the editorial editor was a gentleman by the name of Frank K. Myers. Frank was a newsman of the old school. You wrote what had happened and NOT what you thought should have happened. This was before, during and after Woodward and Bernstein had a new generation of writers thinking they were investigative reporters and not just plain newsmen.
Frank told me that during WW 2 he was taken into the Corps in his mid-30s. Unusual enough, but he was destined to be part of a counseling unit in Charleston, SC, to help Marines suffering from battle fatigue. Also serving in the unit was Frank Blair of TV reporting fame.
Frank's DI on the Island turned out to be Lou Diamond, the already legendary mortar master of the Corps. He was also, at the time, a self-made case hardened barrel of terror and strict discipline. Frank said Diamond was so well connected in the Corps that he would tell first and second lieutenants to go to hell if he didn't like their orders. He also, according to Frank, called captains "son" instead of "sir" if it suited his mood.
Diamond would come into the recruit squad bay and proceed to demolish it if he found anything remotely offending his DI's eye. It wasn't unusual for him to grab a boot by the utility jacket lapels and hold him dangling a foot above the deck while flooding the air with colorful and very basic Anglo-Saxon descriptions of the entire squads ancestoral lineage. This was followed by his casually throwing the boot through the hatchway. Diamond had such a tough reputation, Frank said, that he could clear a slop chute by taking a beer bottle in hand and crushing it into shards. I guess that signaled that Diamond was about to take on anyone who displeased him....one and all.

John W. Faust
US Army Retired
E-Mail: Dogface4449@webtv.net
Addendum By Dick Gaines

While on active duty in the Corps (1952-72), I was interested in the stories that abounded about Lou Diamond; in those early days (the early '50s) I occasionally met an older Marine who had knowledge of the legendary Lou Diamond and who would relate stories about him, but it was always second person knowledge. Nobody I met--and I met some pretty interesting old time Marines in those days-- had ever really himself served with Diamond. I'm sure there were many Marines still around at that time who both knew and had served with Diamond, but it just wasn't my fortune to run into them. But stories about the colorful Lou Diamond were plentiful. Thus, I had heard all of the old stories about Diamond, i.e., his raising chickens on the base, his goatee, etc.

But it was not until approximately 2-3 years ago that I met a former Marine with first hand knowledge of Diamond. That was Chester Milks, who had enlisted in the Corps in 1938. Milks had been in Diamond's company, H-2-5, at New River, NC (now Camp Lejeune) at the time of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII.

Milks told me he had wanted to volunteer for the newly forming para-Marine unit, and had arranged with the company clerk to do so. But, one problem: Diamond was known to take it personal when a Marine attempted to transfer out of his outfit. In the interest of making a longer story shorter here, Chet told me that he soon got the word that his transfer had been approved and his orders were being cut; he also got the word that Diamond had gotten wind of it and was on his way to see him.
Chet went on to say that when he next saw Lou, his only, and unexpected, reponse was to slap Pfc Milks on the back, shake his hand and say, "Milks you just made my team!"

Months later, on Guadalcanal in 1942, Milk's new unit, 1st Parachute Bn, was running low on supplies. Knowing that his old unit was on nearby Tulagi island, Milks secured permission to make a boat run over there to see his old comrades. He said he received a warm welcome from his old unit, and Lou Diamond as well; and he returned to his company on Guadalcanal with the sought-after items of supply. Chet confirmed that most of the stories about Diamond were pretty accurate.

 
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