The Marine Corps League (MCL): Interview with Michael Farmer, Commandant, Texas Detachment 929, MCL

I met Mr. Michael Farmer at the beach in my neighborhood, and he entertained us a couple of nights with his military and truck driving stories, so I asked if I could have an interview. Mike served in the Marines from ’66 to ’69 and did a tour and a half in Vietnam. He was with his Marine Infantry Battalion on Monkey Mountain when the North Vietnamese blew up the U.S. Air Base in Đà Nàng  in ‘67. Soon after his honorable discharge, Mike became a member of the Marine Corps League.

Marine Corps League Mission Statement:

The mission of the Marine Corps League is to promote the interest and to preserve traditions of the United States Marine Corps; strengthen the fraternity of Marines and their families; serve Marines and FMF Navy Personnel who wear or who have worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor; and foster the ideals of Americanism and patriotic volunteerism.

Associate Members of the Marine Corps League are valued assets to the organization. Their dedication to our Marines and FMF Navy Personnel is outstanding. We appreciate their interest in serving the community to make a positive impact. 

Marine Corps League Texoma Detachment 929

The Texoma Detachment has a Denison address, but it really lies a bit north of Pottsboro. The Marine Corps League meets the first Saturday every month at 12:00 p.m., but not this month because it is the Fourth of July weekend, kind of. They will meet the next Saturday in July. Before the pandemic, they held a potluck dinner at meetings, but now everyone brings their own lunch. 

Only active, reserve, retired, and veteran Marines and Navy corpsmen can vote and hold offices. The Marine Corps does not employ doctors or chaplains. Navy corpsmen serve the Marines as doctors and chaplains on board ships and submarines and in combat. Corpsmen run towards the battlefield action to rescue the wounded, while risking their own lives during combat. 

Any civilian can attend the MCL fellowship gatherings and even become associates, and are invited to do so. The Texoma Detachment’s associates help organize events and drives and are extremely important to the detachment. The Texoma Detachment operates a Toys for Tots drive in October to December, attends Veteran funerals, and performs Color Guard ceremonies, and provides other support services. 

I asked Mike what his favorite memory of his service in the Marine Corps League is. He proudly replied, “When I was elected Commandant in 2022, and reelected in 2023.” The Continental Congress operated as the United States’ de facto government from 1774 to 1789. On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia established the U.S. Marine Corps by passing a resolution that stated, "…two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet. 

Veteran of Belleau Wood, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and then Major General John A. Lejeune founded the Marine Corps League in 1923. The U.S. Congress congressionally chartered the MCL organization as a Veteran Service Organization on August 4, 1937. Texoma Detachment 929 celebrates the Marine Corps birthday every year on November 10 with a cake cutting ceremony and party. 

The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor

Almost anyone over the age of 35 recognizes the Marine Corps emblem, the EGA, which means “The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor”. The Marines wore various emblems mainly themed with the spread eagle and fouled anchor, before 1868. Brigadier General Jacob Zeilin, seventh Commandant of the Marine Corps, chose the EGA in 1868. Only 1% of the U.S. Population earns status as a Marine. Many Marine Corps enlistees do not graduate boot camp. 

From Marine Corps Community Service Bridgeport, California:

“The emblem represents what we stand for, our past, and our future. There are three basic components of the Marine Corps emblem:

“Eagle: The eagle is the national symbol of the United States, and is the one part of the emblem which readily identifies the Marine Corps with the United States. The eagle proudly carries a streamer in its beak which bears the motto of the Corps, "Semper Fidelis.

“Globe: Emphasizing the close ties between the U.S. Marine Corps and the British Royal Marines, the idea of a globe as part of the emblem comes from the emblem of the Royal Marines. However, the Royal Marines' emblem shows the Eastern Hemisphere, whereas the U.S. Marine Corps' emblem shows the Western Hemisphere. Today, of course, the globe can also symbolize the "global" Marine Corps commitments and responsibilities which have evolved in the 20th century.

“Anchor: The anchor in the EGA is not just a plain anchor but a "fouled" anchor, meaning it has become hooked on something in the ground, or it has its cable wound around it. The anchor emphasizes the close ties of the Marine Corps with the U.S. Navy.”

From Private to Corporal: Michael Farmer

Corporal Mike Farmer enlisted in the Marine Corps in February1966 at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego. He spent 12 weeks in boot camp where among all that they learned, one thing was how to field dress a rabbit. After boot camp graduation, Private Farmer was sent to Camp Pendleton to its Marine Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) and received four weeks of weapons specialist training. 

Basic infantry training also included grenade throwing, mortar shooting, tear gas chamber experience so on the battlefield they would know how to detect they were being gassed. Then Private Farmer went to Quantico Virginia where he was trained to repair guns from pistols to 106 mm M40 recoiless rifles. 

After Quantico, it was back to Camp Pendleton where Private Farmer joined the 27th Marine Infantry, 5th Division, at 18 years of age. There he received his orders to deploy to Vietnam. His division’s transport at Camp Pendleton was in cattle car-like trailers. They were loaded in like cattle, rode cramped up like cattle, and unloaded like cattle. 

Mike remembers being a scared 18-year-old with no experience in life when his division landed in Vietnam. During Mike’s tour and a half in Vietnam, he took two R&Rs, or vacations. A Marine soldier could take leave every six months during the Vietnam Conflict, or it was also called Police Action, both by the U.S. Congress and Pentagon. Congress never declared the VNV Conflict a war. 

He went to Hong Kong on one leave and Penang, Malaysia, on the second, but on the third one, he came home and did not reenlist. The Marines gave the enlisted men a choice to go back at this time, but Mike had other things on his mind. He was disappointed when he landed back home on U.S. soil in California. The California civilians were protesting the war and U.S. soldiers, and these civilians were behaving in dangerous manners.

Mike's division landed back in the U.S. at El Toro Marine Air Station (AS) in Santa Ana, California. The USMC locked up Mike and his fellow soldiers in a barn and transported out of the port after midnight for their safety. The military deactivated the El Toro AS in 1999. I told Mike before the interview that I would not ask anything about his service on the battlefield, but if he wanted to tell me any stories, I would like to hear them. 

He told one story about being on Monkey Mountain while watching the U.S. Air Base blowing up in Đà Nàng  after a Viet Cong attack, Vietnam. Vietnam wraps around the southern Indochina Peninsula where Ho Chi Minh City is, bordering Cambodia, and up north and inland where Hanoi is, bordering Laos. Ho Chi Minh City was Saigon until 1975. The Monkey Mountain Facility was a U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Marine Base located on Sơn Trà Mountain east of Đà Nàng 

Đà Nàng is on the central eastern coast of Vietnam, and Monkey Mountain is a mountain on a peninsula about 13 miles east of Đà Nàng . U.S. soldiers referred to the Viet Cong as Victor Charlie or V-C. "Victor" and "Charlie" are letters in the NATO phonetic alphabet. "Charlie" referred to the communist forces, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.

As Ralph Manganiello reported 41 years after the Viet Cong rocket attack, “Forty-one years ago I pulled a 90-day TDY [temporary duty travel] at Monkey Mountain following several mortar attacks at Đà Nàng in March 1967. I was looking for some action as a buck Sgt. with the 366th Security Police Sq. Then I came back to Đà Nàng AB only to have Charlie throw a 45 minute attack at us with 122 MM soviet made rockets. They blew the hell out of the base that Saturday night…

“Years later a couple punks made the mistake of trying to rob a liquor store that I was in, and I shot one of them dead with one shot from a 357 Ruger. Afterwards the FBI agent working on a gang task force on violence asked where I learned to shoot so well. "Đà Nàng", I said. "Yeah, that makes sense", he said. 

“In 1996, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM) from exposure to Agent Orange while there. For those unfamiliar with MM, it's bone marrow cancer. I've already had one stem-cell transplant in an attempt to stay alive. Having this cancer from the Agent Orange makes me feel like I'm still fighting in Nam. After combat you never really ever go home again.”

The Đà Nàng burn looked something like this, “At 0040 hours, the second volley of rounds hit a stack of 250 lb. bombs in the ammo dump which went off like the Fourth of July. Bomb frags everywhere. A brilliant flash turned night to day as if a nuke had exploded. A shock wave swept the base with heat and blast as the bomb dump exploded, hurtling fire and debris thousands of feet into the air. Shrapnel rained for several minutes.”

Mike came home as a Marine Veteran in 1969 and drove a truck all over this great U.S.A. He also joined the Marine Corp League and has continued to serve. I want to thank Mike for one of the best live interviews I have ever conducted. It was out on the beach; there were quite a few people there listening. And I actually, for the first time since the computer, over 30 years, ago, wrote the whole thing with pen and paper—so old school, just like 1966.  

This year, 2023, the USMC turns 248-years-old. After the Vietnam tragedy, the military tore their jeeps apart and sold them as parts. Veterans and veteran organizations, like Mike bought the jeep’s parts and put them back together. Vietnam Veterans of America  owns  this U.S. Army jeep Vietnam era in the picture here. These jeeps had a tendency to roll over, so the army junked them and purchased new jeeps. 

The address of the Marine Corps League, Texas Detachment 929 is:

2355 FM 406
Denison, Texas

The Texoma Detachment meets on the first Saturday of every month at 12:00 p.m. (noon). A few Korean War Veterans are still attending in their 80s. Visitors are welcome. Pack yourself a lunch, and go meet some Republic of the United States of America American heroes.

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GOOD. Water stained; 75 degrees; 3.56 feet above pool. Striper fishing is great on live bait anchoring on humps in 20-30 feet of water and drifting flats in 15-25 feet of water. Topwaters are working early in the backs of creeks and along river channels. Catfish are good on cut shad and prepared baits. Channels are on the rocks and shallow flats in 10-20 feet of water. Blue catfish are on deep humps in 40-50 feet of water. Bass are slow on shallow crankbaits and top waters early along the banks. Look for bass in the shade during the day near docks in 8-15 feet of water. Shad fry are everywhere so downsize baits to catch numbers. Crappie are slow on jigs and minnows near docks and on brush piles using electronics to spot active fish in 10-18 feet of water. Report by Jacob Orr, Guaranteed Guide Service Lake Texoma. Water level continues to be high. Smaller striped bass are surfacing feeding on shad hitting topwaters and swimbaits. Slab bite is starting to turn on producing better quality fish in big schools in deep water. The slab bite will only improve. Report by John Blasingame, Adventure Texoma Outdoors.

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