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Elbert LeBron Gatlin




USMCMaddogG21@aol.com

 

What song most reminds you of your school days?  
Sugar Shack
What teacher most influenced you? 
Sergeant Waymon White U.S.Army
Who were your best friends at Central?
John Lewis, John Searcy, Daune Estill, & Clyde McBriar
What is your most memorable experience at the reunions?
Seeing Classmates smiling just as they were at Graduation when I left them & W.L. Goodman being so kind as to tell the Classmates of my accident & outlook on life.
What are your fondest memories of Chattanooga Central High School?
Practice, practice, & more practice on the ROTC Rifle Team & competing in smallbore rifle matches against other high schools. The wear of footprints in the wooden steps. Art class with Miss Derryberry.
My Life Since Graduation
After Graduating Central Class of '65 I went to work. September,1965 I was drafted into the U.S.Army. But not having been sworn in yet I opted for something better. The Few,the Proud,the U.S. Marines. The winter of '65-'66 I spent at Parris Island in bootcamp and at Camp Lejurne, N.C. in Infantry Regiment. After a short leave home I was off to Camp Pendleton, California for escape, evasion, & survival training. Having orders for WestPac I went to serve with "Golf" Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division on duty at Phu Bai, South Vietnam. There I participated on nine Operations against the NVA & VietCong. In January,1967 after a chopper landing in a hot LZ I lost my hearing and was medivac out of country. Served the rest of my 13 month tour as NCOIC Base Property Section Camp Swuab, Okinawa. Returning Stateside in June,1967 while on leave I started dating Brenda Annette Little. Later that year Brenda & I were married. I finished out my active duty with an honorable discharge. Working days I attended two years at Northwest Georgia College nights and graduated with an Associates Degree in Machine Tool Technology & Math. I then attended Chattanooga State for one year majoring in Advertising Art. Working my way up thru the machining trades I became a Master Tool & Die Maker - Engineer. During these years my wife Brenda and I were blessed with one son & three daughters. During the 1980's I continued to serve 8 years with the Marine Reserves here in Chattanooga. A Marine M-109A-3 155mm self propelled Artillery Battery. Serving as Operations Chief of the Fire Direction Control Section. With my last two years in Marine Artillery Battery serving as Assistant Executive Officer of the Battery. In late 1980's I worked as a Tooling Engineer for the Aerospace Industry in Huntsville, Alabama. Doing work for Boeing, Hughes Aircraft, U.S. Navy Missle Command, McDonald Douglas, U.S. Army (Redstone Arsenal), & United Technologies. In May,1990 I along with our youngest daughter Mary (12 years old) were involved in a single car accident. We lost Mary as a result of this accident and I was permanently paralyzed from mid chest down. But life doesn't end. As I learned while serving in Vietnam, for every bad thing in life, something good will also happen. Seven months after the accident and the loss of our sweet daughter Mary, my wife Brenda and I were again blessed with another sweet daughter. Rachel Lynn is her name. Now, being more or less retired, I still very much enjoy life. I enjoy driving using hand controls, watching my children and 7 grand children mature and grow, fishing with my grandson Ben, & taking Brenda to the Marine Corps Ball each November. As for best lesson learned in life. To always count your blessings. And to remember for every bad thing in life, something good will also happen. Being human we tend by nature to take the good for granted. Always count your blessings. Medals and awards earned while serving in the United States Marine Corps include: Marine Commendation Medal for Valor in Combat w/ "V" device, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Citation Ribbon, Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation ( Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ Palm), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Actions, 1st Class Color w/ Palm), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ 1960 Device, Expert Rifle Badge, & Expert Pistol Badge. Serving with the Marines in Vietnam my Company Commander was then 1st. Lt. Charles Krulak. Later in his career he became a Marine 4 star General and retired from the Marines in 1999 as the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps. I now enjoy emailing regularly with the General, recalling our combat missions while serving in Vietnam and our days in the field. Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) Elbert Lebron Gatlin Sergeant of Marines