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Old 03-12-2012, 08:03 PM
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Cpl Miller Cpl Miller is offline
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Losing history, and Thanking Marines

Every day we lose more and more of our individual history as Marines. The Corps has a rich history of our accomplishments, but what about the individual Marine’s history? One of the most important events of your life was the day you graduated Marine Corps boot camp.

Each of us did incredible things during boot camp: the push-ups, 3 miles runs, dealing with crazed drill instructors. Our journey in becoming Marines can be found in the pages of our graduation books and platoon pictures. These books and pictures represent who we are and reaffirm what it took in earning the title U.S. Marine.

These graduation books are getting harder and harder to find. We are doing our best in gather and digitize as many of these books as we can. This in turn offers future generation the opportunity to look back at our time in the Corps through our database. In many cases these books are purchased by Marines and non-Marines alike, then donated to the Yellow Footprints collection. Private collectors also supply listings of books they have on-hand. We take that data and add it to our boot camp database for public viewing.
This site would never have grown to this point if it wasn’t for you Marines and those that support our Corps.

All this is great, but we need more platoon pictures and books, so we need your help?

If you have your graduation book and or platoon picture, please consider providing copies to us so we can digitally store the pages. At the same time, it would allow us to hand out copies, FREE OF CHARGE to any Marine, and or his/her family who asks for them. This is a good thing people, please help if you can.

Do you ever wonder why anyone would spend their own money to purchase graduation books, then turn around and donate them?

The following story is about one such person who donates books as her way of saying THANKs for what we do as Marines and to honor her best friend.
I give you the story of Geri Lewis.

This story is about FOUR high school best friends: Geri, Jeff, the future husband to Geri , Dottie, Geri’s sister, and Ken, the Marine. These four did everything together but most of all they took care of each other, an unspoken commitment that would be tested years later.
After high school Ken joined the Marines to do his part in the up and coming war. It was 1963 and Viet Nam was about to break loose. His friends were proud of what he was about to do but at the same time worried he might not make it back. Ken was special to all of them.

Fast forward to Con Thien, Viet Nam..... "hill of angels", 1967..September 21st to be exact.
This day 34 Marines died and well over 100 were wounded. Ken was one of the 34 who died that day in a battle with the NVA. 34 souls had given their lives for God, country, and Corps.
Over the years, Geri thought many times about the desire to help, and honor her Marine friend by thanking other vets in his name. Geri remembered Ken showing her his graduation book while on leave before heading to Viet Nam. Over the years the book was lost, Geri decided to find it. She decided to take on the mission to honor a friend. In her search for the book, she found Yellow Footprints and read about our mission of finding and returning these graduation books to those that had lost them. As in all research, you need information to go on.

Unfortunately, for Geri she could only remember a few bits and pieces of information about Ken’s book. She knew the date he joined, where he went to boot camp (Parris Island), but not his platoon number. The search was on…..
She began purchasing books on E-bay that had graduation dates of 1963, Parris Island in hopes of finding a picture of Ken in his dress blues. For month’s she purchased books to no avail. Every time she accumulate 6 to 8 books that were not the ones she was looking for, she would donate them to the Yellow Footprints collection for give away.

This went on for months, with more than 50 books being donated to the Yellow footprints collection. Although her search so far had not turn up the book she was looking for, she did donate a number of books that other Marines were searching for. Her donations were now being put to good use. A number of her donated books have been returned to Marines who had lost theirs.

During the time Geri was purchasing and donating books, a couple of other missions were taking place. Valerie Shield, and Steve McCrum both Former Marines were on their own missions to collect (inventory) and list books on the East coast. These inventories were then supplied to Yellow Footprints for entry into the boot camp database.
Valerie took on the women Marines training Battalion at Parris Island, while Steve covered the male Marines training Battalions at PI, as well as the Marine Corps museum at Quantico, VA. A mission they both paid for out of their own pockets. Thanks Marines!!

Because of the efforts of these two Marines (Valerie, and Steve) we were able to find Ken’s graduation book, which was located at the Marine Corps Museum at Parris Island. The Marine Corps Museum at PI was asked if it were possible for Geri to scan Ken’s book. She explained the reason why and the museum staff gave their full support. You have to be proud of those Marines at PI. They not only provided a place, but equipment if needed. They understood they were supporting a fellow Marine (Ken), and they gave it 110% effort in doing so. Semper Fi.

Let us back track.
Sometime before Ken’s book was found, Geri picked up on a tip that 1000 Parris Island Series books could be found with a private collector who might be interested in selling. Once contacted the collector provided a listing that showed the collection covered a LARGE number of years (1950 – 1999)
Turns out 350 of the 1000 books had no duplicates and they were for sale……Geri wasted no time in purchasing them: 350 books in all.
After getting the books home she started scanning. She scanned each books DI page and all the recruit dress blues pages AND she scanned ALL 350 books. As she scanned the books we (YFP) would receive updates she would mail to us for data entry into our database.

I do a lot of scanning for the site, but have to say, this took one heck of a person who was committed to going that extra mile in honoring a friend and ALL Marines at the same time. This was more than we could have ever expected. In addition, it gets better.
Now with all those books, she pondered what to do with them next? Geri wrote to me in one email, how about I DRIVE them to California and donate them myself…along with Dotty her sister. Something about shipping cost being too expensive…. so we will just combine a vacation with book delivery. My response, I’ll buy you lunch. Ha ha ha

It took me a couple of days to get over the fact she would do all this to honor a fallen Marine and friend.
On Saturday March 3rd at, or around 11:00 am Geri and sister Dotty did the unthinkable, they delivered 350 Series boot camp graduation books to California.

As the pictures show, they were not even driving a truck, but a small SUV. Some statistics: 350 books packed in 17 boxes have the combined weight of 739.50 pounds with each box weighing in at 43.5 pounds. In addition, they drove these books from Pennsylvania to Sacramento, Ca !!

There is a Marine (Ken) up there looking down with a smile on his face, you did good Geri, you really did good. Thank you so much.

To those of you that have not taken the time to submit your books and or platoon pictures please remember that many of your brother and sister Marines are looking to get their piece of history back. YOU may have the one thing that brings us all together: the love, and support for our brother and sister Marines. There is nothing like it, it is who we are.

If you have history in your hand, consider sharing it with the world. We can help if need be. You can send your scanned pictures to support@yellowfootprints.com
Thanks again Geri and thanks to everyone who has already sent in your books, and pictures

Semper Fi

Gary
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Cpl Miller USMC 1964 - 1970
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Last edited by Cpl Miller; 03-13-2012 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:02 AM
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JITB JITB is offline
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See if you can dig up Platoon 344, 1958, Parris Island in that pile of books.
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:43 PM
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corky0566 corky0566 is offline
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Simply amazing! Wonderful story about friends....
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