The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 1, 2012

From Vietnam to Washington, D.C.

NORMAN — Russ McReynolds has the dubious distinction of being thrown off the Marine Corps base by the Commandant of Marines.

Russ was born in Norman, a fourth-generation Normanite. After graduating from Norman High School in 1966 and attending one semester at OU, he decided to join the Marines.

After boot camp, Russ was a communications specialist. While posted at Parris Island Marine Corps base in South Carolina, he was picked to appear on stage for a Tim Conway show called “Operation Entertainment.” They surprised him when they brought out his girlfriend from Fort Worth during the show.

He was assigned to South Vietnam in 1968. He worked in the communications center in the Force Logistics Command at Da Nang for nine months. Each Marine in Vietnam was expected to spend some time in the field. So for three months interspersed throughout the year, he walked in the rice paddies fighting the Viet Cong.

After his tour in Vietnam, he was selected for assignment to the Marine showcase base, which was a small enclave at 8th and I streets in downtown Washington, D.C. There, he pulled Honor Guard duty.

He says that the biggest mistake he made while in the Marines was rejecting an opportunity to serve at Camp David. But he met his wife, Laurie, in Washington. They were married in November 1970.

One day after guard duty at the gate to the 8th and I post, he received word that the commandant of Marines wanted to see him. The commandant showed him two pieces of paper on his desk and said he didn’t understand them. One paper was a recommendation that Russ be promoted for exceptional duty performance. The other paper was his request to be transferred so that he could separate from the Marines. The commandant asked him to explain. Russ told him that, when he was growing up on the farm in Norman, his father had always told him to do the best at whatever job he was assigned, even if he didn’t like the job. He told the commandant that the first paper was evidence that he was doing his best at his job. The other paper was an indication that he didn’t enjoy the job. When he began to explain to the commandant that he was frustrated that Marines weren’t encouraged to think for themselves, the commandant called an aide in and ordered him to get Russ off the post in 24 hours. He actually was out the gate in less than 24 hours. He was discharged on Aug. 7, 1970.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • State, local jobmarkets look up

    A tight labor market is often a big problem for economic development professionals. They need to be able to promise companies that there are willing workers in the community’s labor pool....

    July 26, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • James Garner will be missed

    Editor, The Transcript: Norman native son James Garner was a fine actor on stage, screen and television. I enjoyed the “Maverick” TV series and, in particular, the 1959 episode “The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill” in which the very popular ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014