7 October 2008

The Butter-Cutter On MGySgt. “Sam” Plott, USMC

The Butter-Cutter wasn't at his station at the end of the Chow Line when I arrived in the virtual Mess Hall, so I went into the Galley to look for him. As I passed the Spud Locker, I noticed that the door was ajar and peeked in. There he stood leaning on a window sill with chin in his folded arms. Suddenly, he looked up and out the window and began speaking to someone unseen by me:

“Hey, Sam, it was a long wait; but, it was worth it. When ya checked out on 16 June, there was a huge line ta get inta Arlington 'n' the earliest they could come up with was 19 September. Ya know, the place is real popular with yer buddies from WW II, Korea, 'n' Vietnam fer their last formation; after all is said 'n' done, I guess you guys belong together.  

“That's right, Sam, 19 September. How about that? Yer birthday! Sam, it was a beautiful day 'n' all-hands fell-out in Dress Blues: like, the head o' Marine intel., General Lake, 'n' a gaggle o' other Marines--Yeah, you too! But, John Asbery had ta first sew a few more hash marks on yer Blues ta get 'em squared away. John wants me ta apologize: even though he knew about the “Old Breed” uniform of “Dress Blues, tennis shoes 'n' a light coat o' oil,” he just couldn't dress ya up like that. Aah, ya know John, he can be a little uptight every now 'n' then. 

“Anyhow, they gave ya a real fine service in the Old Post Chapel at Ft. Myer in Arlington. Chaplain Houk did all the religious stuff; yer grandson, Derek, read a poem by Kiplin'; 'n', yer son, Chris, gave the eulogy. Oh sure, Sam, there was alotta music too. I think maybe ya wouldda been embarrassed by all them “good words” 'n' stuff. I know when that major got up ta talk about ya at the Marine Corps Intelligence Association meetin', ya bugged out. Well, everybody voted ta name the “Staff Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Award” after ya 'n' that says it all.   

“After, the Chapel service, they put you 'n' yer wife, Ellie, on one o' them artillery caissons pulled by horses. Howabout that? When ya landed on Guadalcanal, Peliliu, 'n' them other islands, ya were a "Cannon-Cocker," right? Somebody must o' knew that 'n' wanted ya ta have a ride fer old times sake. Sam, it was somethin' seein' you 'n' Ellie on that caisson with everybody walkin' behind. I gotta admit, though, I rode in a car. Damn it, Sam, it was a mile er more ta yer row 'n' I didn't have on my boondockers. On the way, we went by rows o' guys from every war since the Civil War 'n' every rank from private ta general. Sam, diddya know, there's more than 300,000 guys there? Hey, you 'n' Ellie ain't gonna feel lonely there.

“By the way, Sam, I heard tell, ya got inta the intel. field after WWII cuz they offered ya a ticket ta an Aerial Photo Interpretation Course out in Kansas, a state ya'd never been ta before; so, ya went out there ta see what Kansas was like 'n', along the way, became a “Squint!” Sounds about right ta me! On top o' that, somebody said that ya landed at Inchon with the 1st Marine Division as a staff sergeant with one o' yer students named Cpl. John Guenther. Then, along about Vietnam, he's the Staff, Counter-Intel. Officer 'n' yer the Intel. Chief at Headquarters, III Marine Amphibious Force in Danang--AT THE SAME TIME! Yeah, Sam, alotta guys told me, ya trained 'em right! But waddya expect from a guy who had only two tours o' duty outta the Fleet Marine Force where he collected 12 “battle stars” fer his campaign ribbons 'n' was the most senior master gunnery sergeant in the whole Marine Corps when he retired.

“Anyhow, when we got ta yer row, I did a quick recon: there's guys there from all yer wars with one even havin' a Medal of Honor. Yeah, Sam, you 'n' Ellie are among friends. Well, we all mustered at yer place in the row 'n' after everybody quit millin' around: Chaplain Houk said some more words; seven Marines fired a 3-volley rifle salute; a Marine bugler blew taps; the Marine pallbearers slowly, real slowly lifted yer flag off you 'n' Ellie, folded it, 'n' passed it ta Master Guns Lynam; 'n' then . . . 'n' then, while down on one knee, real gentle-like, he passed yer flag on ta yer grandson as if he were sayin' fer ya, 'THIS is my legacy!' ”

Falling silent, The Butter-Cutter buried his face in his folded arms and I quietly closed the Spud Locker door and left.

Semper Fidelis,

Samuel Cole “Sam” Plott, Junior

Master Gunnery Sergeant United States Marine Corps

World War II - Korea - Vietnam

19 September 1923 - 17 June 2008

Semper . . . “Sam,”

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

Waddaya think?

(18 Thinks)

McNulty said:   October 7th, 2008 7:30 am

Sam and my grandfather met at the Denver MCIA convention. They were the only two WWII Marine vets in attendance. I wish I could have been there for the final salute. Godspeed, MGySgt Plott.

Harry Todd said:   October 7th, 2008 8:32 am

Well done. Nice tribute. Says it all. My distinct honor to have known both "Sam" and his lovely bride Ellie

GI Wilson said:   October 7th, 2008 9:46 am


Mike McKeever said:   October 7th, 2008 10:11 am

Well said, Major. Sorry I wasn't there to say goodbye. Another fallen comrade. Semper Remembering, Another Squint, trained by Sam's protege's

dave spetrino said:   October 7th, 2008 10:21 am

anthony, one of the nicest tributes ever.

Bob Dalton said:   October 7th, 2008 11:19 am

Well Done, Anthony

Seamus Garrahy said:   October 7th, 2008 11:57 am

Major, This is probably the finest eulogy to a Marine I have ever read. Semper Fi, Seamus

"Brasso" said:   October 7th, 2008 12:49 pm

Semper Fi...do'er die. I love Marines.

Jock Craig said:   October 7th, 2008 1:42 pm

A very moving eulogy -- the moreso because it came from the Butter Cutter! I wish I had known MGySgt Plott -- my loss, I am afraid.

Al Loreth said:   October 7th, 2008 2:28 pm

Butter cutter, Well done.

C.B. Clement, MSgt, USMC Ret. said:   October 7th, 2008 3:23 pm

Sir, Semper Fi!

Harvey Miller said:   October 7th, 2008 4:28 pm

Truly a great tribute to a great man and fellow Marine. It was a pleasure to know him and to be a recipient of his mentorship.

John Guenther said:   October 7th, 2008 4:29 pm

An outstanding tribute to a distinguished Marine.Sam and I were in the 6th Marines in 1950 as the regt moved to Pendleton from Lejeune. But, Sam was reassigned to the Division G-2 Section in order to consolidate all imagery interpreters. I was a Corporal at Inchon and made Sergeant while at sea prior to landing at Wonson on the way to Chosin. Sam and I stayed in touch to the very end. I shared with Sam several historical documents concerning the Division G-2 Section a month prior to his passing. Thanks Anthony for this tribute. John Guenther 

.......G. O. Gigg GySgt USMC Ret said:   October 7th, 2008 6:18 pm

A great tribute to a great Marine. May his soul now rest in peace.

John Asbery said:   October 7th, 2008 7:08 pm

A tribute to a great Marine, I had the honor of working for Sam and he was a hard task master, you had to be right, not correct but right, and he backed you when you were right and no one belived you. I had him for a friend for over 30 years, I will miss him.

Dick Culver said:   October 8th, 2008 7:31 am

While I never met the Master Guns, he sounds like one to ride the river with. The tribute was touching and brought a tear to this old Marine's eye. Extremely well done Sire, extremely well done! I noticed several other names that were extremely familiar however. G.I.Wilson, one of my Lieutenants from many years ago, and Harry Todd, who if I'm not mistaken was my ITT expert in 2/3 in RVN - good man! While I am/was technically an "Intel" sort (almost by accident as I once told you) I remember many of the old timers such as Wolfgang Fleck, and Brig. General Frank Breth who was once a Cpl. in my squad when I was a snot nosed Sergeant! Good folks all... Gotta' go, my screen is getting a bit misty, gotta' wipe it off. Great triuite, wished I'd have met the Master Guns... S/F Dick 

MAJ Bobby Myers, USA Retired said:   October 9th, 2008 9:17 am

Big Army HOOAH! Brother.

Sniperbait '66 said:   October 9th, 2008 10:04 am

That was some sendoff. My eyse are still havin' trouble seein' straight. Every day more of us move on to that great Parade Deck in the Sky. Good men, Great Men like Master Gunnery Sgt "Sam". I wish I could think that he was happily lookin' down on us. My folks included, but we are in a state of emergency, and there will be no peace while our Republic is in trouble. We lost Sam Plott, just when his great heart and mind would have helped us defeat the monsters we're up against right now. SEMPER FIDELIS Master Gunnery Sergeant Sam Plott