Saturday, February 23, 2019


Timmeeh asked, so all of you get to hear a story.

About fifteen years ago I was trying to get an old shotgun apart. A friend of mine at the range loaned me a set of screwdriver tips and the small ratchet that comes with them. I always call them a Chapman set. We used to have them when we work on aircraft. Strong, easy to get into a small space, a well made tool.
I broke a tip. When I brought it back to my friend, I showed him the sheared off tip and he told me that the tool set had sentimental value since it had belonged to his dad. I would never have used it if I had known. But now finding a replacement was a quest. I was prepared to buy a complete set and rob it for the tip I had damaged.

I started hunting for Chapman tips and found a website called Sciline Products. Even then, it was a simple website. It laid out what he had for sale but you had to call to order. Here's the front page as it looked in November 2006, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine. In the middle of the page if you scroll down, it says "Iwo Jima -- Sciline remembers because Sciline was there". The link took you to this tribute page. 

I called the number because he had the specific tips as well as full sets. When he answered it was clearly an elderly man. So I placed my order. I bought a full set for myself and my friend, as well as the tip I needed to replace the broken one. Then I asked if he was Mr. Sciline. He answered in the affirmative.

I told him I had looked at his Marine tribute, that I had been a Marine, and that the island battles of the Pacific had been something I had read a lot about.

We were on the phone over an hour. He went in on D+2. Enemy was everywhere. We know now that the island was honeycombed with tunnels. All they knew was that you might advance a few yards and then get shot from behind. He was never wounded. Fought all the way until the Army relieved them and the island was secure. 130 Marines went in together. 11 of them were still there when they boarded ship.

Told me all sorts of stories and at the end he told me it meant a lot to know that someone remembered what they had done. Said he felt like it was all forgotten and that when he passed no one would remember. I told him I remembered. That a lot of people remembered. That in the Marine Corps today Iwo Jima is right there with Belleau Wood and Tripoli.

He's the only Iwo Jima veteran I've ever spoken too that I know of. Certainly the only one I spoke about the battle with. He's gone now. The business is closed. The website down. But I remember and I invite you all to remember, too. Remember what price was paid. Remember Sciline.

The 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. 


Aesop said...

Pastor I knew was a Navy chaplain.
Went ashore with the 6th wave.
Did "way too many" beachside last rites and such.

Gorges Smythe said...

Thank you for this post.

Glen Filthie said...

You Marines forget all to easily that - contrary to the liberals and the media - you have fans everywhere.

It's too bad they are out of business; I bought a Weaver gunsmith's set and the bits were made of Chinesium. Same thing happened too, King Peter broke on when I loaned it to him and he was broken right up and apologetic about it. The idiot went down to Crappy Tire and bought a screwdriver with the same head as the tip he broke and he begged my forgiveness, LOL.

It makes me happy to think that your Marine found a good life after the war.

ASM826 said...

Chapman still makes the tool sets. Sciline is guarding the Gates.

Tom Murin said...

I worked with a guy in a warehouse when I was maybe 21 - just before going into the Navy. He was on Iwo. This was 1984 - 85 - about 40 yrs after the fact. Didn't get into the details.

Otherwise, I worked with a Navy vet a few years before who carried with him a metal trinket that had the names of all the actions that he participated in the Pacific in WWII engraved on it. I recall Eniwetok being one of them (since it was an odd name that I wasn't familiar with at the time). He told me it was made from a piece (the propeller, I believe) of a kamikaze that struck his ship. I don't recall which ship. I had no doubt that it was authentic. He was a machinist by trade and was working for the Navy at the base in Lakehurst, NJ, where they made the catapults and arresting gear for the aircraft carriers.

JC said...

God bless.

JC said...

And may he get a good shift on guarding Heaven's doors. Semper Fi.

STxAR said...

A high school friend's dad sold Cornwell tools. I bought an oil pressure sending unit socket from him. He had these scars on his cheeks. I don't remember if I asked or he volunteered, but he was shot in the mouth on Guadacanal.

My uncle went through Okinawa. He had a similar experience as Sciline. He said that carrying the flamethrower was the WORST job you could have.

Those were MEN.

Timmeehh said...

Thanks for the extensive reply.

LSP said...

Thanks for that.

A few years back I was talking with an older gentleman after Mass and asked him what'd happened to his arm, it was all scarred up.

He grinned and said Iwo Jima.

An architect, RIP and to your friend too.

Tom in NC said...

Many veterans of all wars just did their duty and thought it was nothing special, returning home glad to be alive, even if wounded. I know my dad was that way, even though he was wounded bad enough in WWII that he couldn't walk very well the rest of his life, even losing his leg many years later due to the effects of his wounds.

I had a customer who worked in a lab in NC. In talking with him one day, he said something that struck a chord, some turn of phrase, and I asked him, "Were you in the Marine Corps?" He said he was, but that he didn't really consider himself a Marine. I thought that a bit odd, so I asked him what he meant. "Well," he said, "I was sent to Viet Nam, but I was wounded three days after I arrived, was sent home and medically discharged as an E-6." Since he had gotten sent home so quickly after arriving, he really didn't consider him self a 'real Marine'!! I told him in no uncertain terms that he was more of a Marine than many who served full tours and to stop thinking that way! I hope it helped him, I'd like to think it did!

Beans said...

The Hell that was the Island Hopping Campaign was just bad. Iwo Jima and the later islands were Hell squared.

I met a marine who survived the torpedo warhead bunker explosion on Roi-Namur. His buddy, 3 feet away from him, just disappeared.

Too many people think that war, bloody war is so sanitized. Don't shoot the enemy, arrest them, don't kill civilians who are aiding the fighters, blah, blah, blah.

I lived on an island that was wrested from the Japanese. It started out heavily forested, by the end of the fighting only a scant few trees stood.

As to Iwo, kind of fitting that it was one of the few movies where John Wayne died.

We cannot do enough for the survivors of these battles. Or for the survivors of today's fighting. Sad to say, in some ways the Imperial Japanese were vastly more civilized than our current opponents.