updated 1/26/2005 2:48:40 PM ET 2005-01-26T19:48:40

Guest: Brian Dennehy, Dave Moore, Ed McMahon, Brian Dennehy, John Glenn, Richard Kramlich, Roy Chevallier, Timothy Donovan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The HARDBALL Heroes Tour from Camp Pendleton, California, the home of the few, the proud. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 



MATTHEWS:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, live from Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, California.  I‘m surrounded by hundred of Marines.  And we want to thank the 1st Marine Division Band and the San Diego Charger cheerleaders for that rousing welcome. 

Joining us later on the show, veteran Marine fighter pilot and longtime friend and on-air sidekick of the late Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon.  NBC military analyst General Bernard Trainor is with us.

But, first, General Timothy Donovan.  He‘s commanding general of Camp Pendleton.  And Colonel Roy Chevallier.  He‘s chief of staff of the 1st Marine Expedtionary Force.

General, thanks for having us out here.  It‘s rousing just to be here. 

GEN. TIMOTHY DONOVAN, U.S. MARINES:  Chris, thank you.  And to all the HARDBALL staff, welcome to Camp Pendleton.

MATTHEWS:  OK.Let me ask you, how many Marines do you have on base? 

DONOVAN:  On base, we have stationed normally about 30,000 Marines, 31,000 Marines.  But you‘ve got to look at this as a small city.  We‘re north of San Diego, south of Los Angeles. 

We‘ve got 200, over 200 acres of great training area, where we train the Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.  We also move a tremendous number of Marines through here for all their combat skill training through the school of infantry. 

MATTHEWS:  How many people who have been here, were based here, trained here, are now in Iraq? 

DONOVAN:  Colonel? 

COL. ROY CHEVALLIER, 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE:  Almost all of them.  There are two types of Marines, the Marines that are getting ready to deploy to Iraq, the Marines that are in Iraq and are going to return from Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Why are the Marines so necessary to the fighting in Iraq? 

Why is it that this corps, the Marine Corps, is vital to the war? 

CHEVALLIER:  Because Marines know how to fight.  And they get the job done. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that recognized by all the other services? 

CHEVALLIER:  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask...



MATTHEWS:  The phrase first to fight still means it, right? 

CHEVALLIER:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the families out here.  How many families you got out here, families of Marines? 

DONOVAN:  We‘ve got thousands and thousands of families.  About 7,800 live on base itself.  And then we‘ve got another 30,000, 40,000 that live in the surrounding areas, all the way to the east to Temecula, north to south in San Clemente, and our great neighboring cities such as Oceanside, Vista. 

MATTHEWS:  The Marines started their service defending U.S. military ships, Naval ships, back in the, what, the Civil War?

DONOVAN:  In the Revolutionary War. 

MATTHEWS:  Revolutionary War.  And then they became known for Normandy and all the battles in the South Pacific in World War II.  How do they get called upon to be the main first fighting force in these inland battles like Fallujah? 

DONOVAN:  Well, we have always been a force in readiness, and by the nature and the transformation of warfare, we‘re a part of a larger joint force.  And we have the capability to fight not only forcible entry from the sea in an expeditionary matter, but in sustained land combat. 

MATTHEWS:  General Trainor, give me a little perspective on this.  The Marines, are they basically just there for the toughest fights? 

RET. GEN. BERNARD TRAINOR, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  No.  They are an expeditionary force, as we are a part of the 911 force.  You got a problem, you call the Marines.  Why?  Because they are combat-ready, well trained, but they are also expeditionary, which means that they don‘t need a big sort of logistic base to take care of them.  They are ready to go.  They‘re usually at sea in one place or another.

And they can get to the spot and sustain themselves in intense combat for as long as you need the job done.  So, it is a logical thing to call on the Marines. 

MATTHEWS:  How to you train men and women to go into combat where there is no clear front, where you can be the best shooter, or the best marksman, the most courageous, gutsy fighter and yet you are riding along in a truck or a Hummer, and you get blown up by a garage door opener, because 200 yards away from you, there is a guy that wants to kill you? 

DONOVAN:  We have to train for a nonlinear battle space, just as it is today.  And we train them in every aspect of warfare.  And this is what makes a tremendous difference in their survival, is, well-trained, well-disciplined, well-led Marines and sailors will always be successful on the battlefield. 

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, everybody saw what happened in Somalia, where our American soldiers were pinned down by a civilian crowd that hated us for being there, came out of nowhere.  What are we preparing for when we look at this vote coming up in Iraq?  What kind of training do the men and women get here to prepare for a civil insurrection, right, or an attack on a voting booth or something like that? 

CHEVALLIER:  Our Marines are very adequately trained prior to departure.  We focus specifically on operations in urban terrain, on the cultural awareness of our Marines at dealing with the Iraqi citizens, as well as Afghanistan, in which we‘re also supporting that operation.  And, likewise, we get intense training on convoy operations, adequately calling for combined arms fire.

And so our Marines are well trained based on the training that they get that‘s a building block approach that stars at Parris Island and San Diego.  And so our Marines are ready for what they‘re going to meet in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  When a Marine walks down a street of a city like Fallujah or anywhere in the Sunni Triangle, how do you tell who the enemy is, General? 

DONOVAN:  Your situational awareness trains you to sort out the good from the bad.  It‘s not always easy.  And it‘s well-disciplined forces that are able to distinguish who is who to the best of their ability. 

But there‘s the element of deception and it‘s the discipline that makes the difference. 

MATTHEWS:  I have heard there are suspicions that we might find a situation over—or the Marines will find one where as we get closer to the elections in Iraq, you might find Iraqi insurgents or jihadists or whatever, terrorists, putting on the costume, the uniform of an Iraqi security force.  You ready for that? 

DONOVAN:  It is a possibility, and the Marines will be prepared for that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the equipment we are looking at around here.  Tell me about this vehicle behind me, General. 

DONOVAN:  General—that is an L.E.-25 with a .25-millimeter gun.  We have several battalions in the active force and the reserve force.  And it‘s a great reconnaissance vehicle.  It also provides great reconnaissance for our forces.  And it has been one of the great pluses that we have had in our inventory. 

MATTHEWS:  If you have got somebody out there operating or controlling or detonating an IED or shooting an RPG at one of our Marine operations going on over there, would that be the counterfire?  Could you spot somebody with that?

DONOVAN:  They have this very capable weapon system with the sights.  I‘ll just tell you, my son went to Iraq in the back of one of them for the original campaign, so I‘m very comfortable with this vehicle. 

MATTHEWS:  What kind of armor they got on them?  They got...

DONOVAN:  It‘s a lightly armored vehicle.  An RPG would, depending upon how it was hit, would be—could stop it. 

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, behind you is a Cobra.  What‘s its role? 

CHEVALLIER:  It‘s a supporting helicopter.  It supports ground troops.  And it scouts.  And it provides all around cover and supporting fires and supporting fires for Marines as they advance and also to form a degree of reconnaissance as well. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not as fast as an airplane.  How does it evade getting hit? 

CHEVALLIER:  It deploys as teams.  They operate these helicopters in teams.  And, also, there‘s always fixed air wing support, as well as the overall air defense capability that the Marine air-ground task force brings with it to the battlefield. 

So, at no time are those helicopters out there defenseless, and nor do they not have adequate support and cover and defense all around. 

MATTHEWS:  General Trainor, I think the helicopter is probably the vehicle most identified with the Vietnam War.  It‘s the one you hear, is the sound of that helicopter.


MATTHEWS:  Either rescuing somebody or coming in on an attack.  How has it advanced since that war to this war in its use, its capability? 

TRAINOR:  Well, some of the helicopters are basically the same as we had in Vietnam.  The CH-46, which is the troop transport helicopter, is the same helicopter.  It‘s just had upgrades on it, but it is still the same old basic vanilla warhorse that we used 30 years ago in Vietnam. 

The improvements have come in the CH-53, which is the heavy-lift helicopter, and most importantly in the Cobra, where the Cobra has gotten sophisticated black box equipment and weaponry on it still, and stronger engines. 

So—but if you look back, you can‘t say there‘s even been a quantum jump in helicopters.  There‘s been an iterative improvement in helicopters, but they are still the same old helicopter that we went to war with in Vietnam. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve got a unit here, the Marine unit went over to Iraq and has come back, it‘s gone back over again, the 1-5.  The 1-5, I should call it that. 

What did they learn the first time that will help them the second time? 



CHEVALLIER:  They bring a host of experiences that—really, what a unit brings back is the junior officers and the NCOs, their experience base, the things that they learned, they bring back to the unit and as—the unit will rebuild.  It will be replaced.  There will be Marines that will replace the other Marines that are being transferred and going on to other places in the Marine Corps. 

And then you build on that base of NCO, staff NCO and junior officer leadership and experience base. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s still better to be experienced than not, right? 

CHEVALLIER:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  General, thank you very much.  It‘s great to be here. 

DONOVAN:  Pleasure.  Thank for coming. 

MATTHEWS:  It is rousing to be here.  And I thank you for letting us meet your Marines. 

And thank you, Colonel, very much.

And thank you, General. 

We‘ll be back with the general later on in the show, who is staying with us. 

And when we come back, we are going to go to the front lines of Fallujah with Major General, Marine Major General Richard Kramlich. 

And as we go to the break, the Marine band plays “Waltzing Matilda,” the theme song of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, the HARDBALL Heroes Tour from Camp Pendleton on MSNBC. 



MATTHEWS:  The HARDBALL Heroes Tour continues in a moment live from Camp Pendleton.  HARDBALL returns after this.



MATTHEWS:  I‘m Chris Matthews from Camp Pendleton for the HARDBALL Heroes Tour. 

Earlier today, I spoke with Major General Richard Kramlich from Marine headquarters in Fallujah, Iraq.  Fallujah has been the site of heavy fighting between Marines and insurgents.

I began by asking General Kramlich what‘s happening on the ground right now. 


MAJ. GEN. RICHARD KRAMLICH, U.S. MARINES:  Well, right now, most of the focus of the Marine Expeditionary Force is on supporting the Iraqi elections upcoming, as all of America knows. 

We‘re the logistics element of the Marine Expeditionary Force, so we‘ve got our logistics operations en route as well.  And I think there‘s a lot of anticipation for the election.  And we are certainly anticipating a successful event. 

MATTHEWS:  The Marines won a big victory in Fallujah, cleaning that city out of terrorists.  Have the terrorists come back? 

KRAMLICH:  Well, they certainly haven‘t come back to Fallujah in force.  We‘re certainly having incidents in the Al Anbar Province.  But the operation in Fallujah itself was a great success. 

And I think it is indicated by the number of caches that were found, the number of IEDs, bomb-making factories that were found right inside that city of Fallujah.  So, that‘s been a major success and our quality of life has certainly improved since we took that city down and got the insurgents out of there. 

MATTHEWS:  We are reading back here that it‘s so difficult with regard to the security for the elections coming up that they can‘t tell the people so far where they‘re going to vote.  How is that going to work out? 

KRAMLICH:  I think most of the people, there is an anticipation and they are aware that the elections are coming up. 

The Iraqi Election Committee is working hard to get that word out.  And we will work closely to let them know where the polling places are going to be.  Certainly, it will be at the 11th hour, and that is necessary because of security concerns.  But I think you‘re going to see a better-than-expected turnout in Al Anbar Province. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there a problem of attacks coming directly at the voting lines? 

KRAMLICH:  I don‘t believe that‘s going to be a problem. 

We‘re working closely with Iraqi forces.  They will certainly provide the security right there in the polling centers, because that is their job and this is an Iraqi election.  But we‘ll be able to cordon off the polling sites at some distance.  You‘re probably aware the Iraqi government is putting in curfews and precluding vehicles from being in the area.  That‘s certainly their weapon of preference, the vehicle-borne IED.

So, we‘re talking all precautions to keep them away from any polling places that are set up. 

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to keep the insurgents, the terrorists or the resisters or whatever we‘re facing, how are you going to keep them from putting on Iraqi uniforms and pretending to be security forces? 

KRAMLICH:  We will be vetting all the Iraqi security forces.  They have been working with us hand in glove.  We‘ll have techniques to secure the areas of who is actually inside the polling places. 

Now, we certainly don‘t want to give away all our techniques, but we are anticipating that they try to do, get some type of a bomb inside on a person.  So we‘ll be taking precautions and the Iraqi security forces will have the capability to make those type of detections. 

MATTHEWS:  How are the people there reacting to your presence, to the Marines? 

KRAMLICH:  Well, I have been in downtown Fallujah.  A lot of the Marines that you see behind me, they are part of the Combat Service Support Battalion, one that operates out of Camp Fallujah.  They have been doing humanitarian assistance efforts in Fallujah.  I have been down there a couple of times myself.

And you can sense that the people that have come back, certainly, they are dismayed at the destruction of a lot of the buildings in Fallujah.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KRAMLICH:  But they have a real sense that we‘re there to try to facilitate the return and have that city be free of insurgents. 

So, there‘s a connection there that I have seen. 

MATTHEWS:  General, there is a lot of debate back in the states, as you know, as to who exactly we‘re fighting in the streets down there.  Are we fighting remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime?  Are we fighting terrorists coming in from outside, jihadists, or are we fighting just Iraqis who are ticked off at the occupation? 

KRAMLICH:  I don‘t think it‘s as much of the latter, but all of the above with all of what else you said.  I don‘t—we‘re still trying to seal the borders.  That is a difficult thing. 

So, there are going to be foreign fighters in here, and extreme jihadists.  But there are certainly some former regime elements here.  As you know, we‘re operating the Sunni Triangle and there‘s a lot of feeling that the Sunnis are going to be disenfranchised from the election.  I think their best bet would be to take part in the election and have a minority that has a voice and can work within the elected government. 

MATTHEWS:  How is morale, sir? 

KRAMLICH:  Morale is outstanding. 

I think these Marines and the Marines behind me certainly have a sense of accomplishment.  They have shown great courage and determination throughout.  And here in the 4th Service Support Group, we have been given a lot of different missions beside our traditional logistics mission. 

And they have just come up huge in everything that has been asked of them.  So—and morale is good because they‘re close to getting home and we‘re ready to turn this over to the Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune. 

MATTHEWS:  Major General, it‘s an honor to talk to you and to be in the presence of your Marines. 

We are going to come right back after this break. 



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back from Camp Pendleton.  And we‘re back with Marine Major General Richard Kramlich, the commanding general of the 4th Service Support Group in Fallujah, Iraq. 

I asked General Kramlich what his Marines feel about their mission in Fallujah. 


KRAMLICH:  Well, they are very proud of what they do, and they‘re the finest that this country has to offer.  And, Chris, you can‘t begin to describe the circumstances and the climate that they have operated in over here. 

We have been through 125 degrees and we‘ve been through 20 degrees.  And no matter what, they rise to the occasion and do whatever is asked of them.  And they do it so well.  I couldn‘t be prouder of them. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about the future?  Do you think we can keep this up for years?  What is your sense of the morale question, the reenlistment, the whole overall challenge that the military is facing in that country? 

KRAMLICH:  Well, they‘re rising to that challenge. 

And I think that when this election and the ones to follow start taking hold, I think the Iraqi nation will get a confidence that they can do this by themselves.  Obviously, the development of the Iraqi security force is the key, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I don‘t think we are going to be here for 10 years.  I think our relationship will be one like we have with other allied countries throughout the world.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KRAMLICH:  Where we‘ll be doing mill-to-mill operations with them and have that type of relationship. 

But as far as having to provide the security like we do here, I think that is going to wind down.  And that is certainly our goal. 

MATTHEWS:  The last question, General Gary Luck is—Gary Luck is over there.  And he‘s trying to figure out the right mission we should have with regard to the Iraqis.  Is it training or is it providing security ourselves?  What is the No. 1 job over there in the next several months? 

KRAMLICH:  I think, in the next several months, we have to focus on training.  But it is going to have to shift soon thereafter to the training.  And I think we can do both of those at the same time, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  It‘s great having you on.  Good luck.  And everybody in the country is rooting for you.  And I really appreciate you taking the time, and the Marines behind you, to join us on the program tonight.  Thank you very much, Major General Richard Kramlich. 

KRAMLICH:  Chris, I would also like to thank all the families back there.  They‘ve just been showing a tremendous amount of courage.  And our hearts go out to them.  And we‘re anxious to see them again. 

But they have been supporting us all the way.  And they have a truly tough job, the families and spouses that are back there in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, General Kramlich. 

KRAMLICH:  Go, Eagles.


MATTHEWS:  When we come back, Captain David Moore will show us a Cobra helicopter and explain the role that it plays in the war in Iraq. 

And in the next half-hour, some famous Marines will join us, Ed McMahon, Brian Dennehy and John Glenn. 

You are watching the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, Camp Pendleton, only on






MATTHEWS:  We‘re back at Camp Pendleton out here in California, which is a rousing American place to be, I must say, at this time in our history, facing combat over there.  And a lot of these guys are going over and women are going over pretty soon. 

We are here with a guy who is teaching some of them how to do their job.  He‘s an instructor in the Cobra helicopter, Captain Dave—what is your last name? 


MATTHEWS:  Moore.  Thank you very much.  Captain Moore, thank you for joining us, sir. 

Let me ask you about the role—let‘s look at the weaponry.  You are looking at some of the weaponry that is carried on the Cobra.  Tell us about it. 

MOORE:  Yes, sir.

Well, first of all, we have the Hellfire missile.  We do carry a lot of ordnance.  The hellfire missile...

TRAINOR:  Chris, this is the big tank killer, the Hellfire. 

MOORE:  Yes, sir.  This is PGM, precision-guided munition.  It‘s actually guides for laser energy.  If you put laser out on the battlefield on the target, the missile will come down and find that coded laser energy and take out that target. 

MATTHEWS:  Can‘t miss. 

MOORE:  Can‘t miss as long as you get the laser out on the target correctly, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s look at the other weaponry you have here

MOORE:  OK.  This is just 2.75 inch.  We call them dumb rockets.  They just go wherever you are... 

MATTHEWS:  You point them?

MOORE:  Putting the aircraft, correct.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re not guided?

MOORE:  Not guided, except for by your aircraft itself.  So, these are great suppression weapons, get their heads down type weapons that—there‘s a couple of different variants with this.  We like to just put the H.E., or a flechette, which is basically just filled with nails, give you a little football field of... 


MATTHEWS:  General Trainor, do you want to start with the Gatling guns of yours.

TRAINOR:  Yes.  Talk about the Gatling gun.  That is a marvelous weapon, anti-personnel weapon.  And it‘s very effective.  And the rate of fire is enormous. 

MOORE:  Yes, sir.  That is primarily designed for an air-to-ground mission, very lethal, pretty accurate.  And we can fire it in a bunch of different ways.  One way is, we can attach it in our helmet, fire where we shoot, or we can fire at fixed.  Obviously, in the front seat, the gunner can direct the weapon on to the target as well. 

MATTHEWS:  If you have got an advancing ground troop of Marines going in on the ground, a fire team, do you move ahead of them?  What is your normal position of deployment there? 

MOORE:  Our primary bread-and-butter is close air supports.  We like to be right over their heads, right down—right there with them.  They can see the pilot in the canopy.  And I think that motivates them. 

So, we do primarily work right along with them overhead.  But there are times that we have been asked to go forward and recce forward, take out targets or just become their eyeballs forward.

MATTHEWS:  Who calls the shots, the men on the ground, the fighters on the ground?  Do they say there‘s somebody over here around this tree; do something with them? 

MOORE:  We work with what‘s called a forward air controller.  He requests our close air support, and we do the work for him.

But, as you can imagine, we want to do get out there and do the job, so we‘re pretty much there to work for him. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is more exposed, the Marines on the ground or you up there? 

MOORE:  It depends on the situation.  In some situations, they‘re dug in down there and we are 50-100 feet.  We can‘t really hide behind—and especially in the desert warfare, it is difficult to get behind.  There is not much to hide behind for us.  So, a lot of times, we are hanging it out a little bit, but, again... 

MATTHEWS:  Tell some war stories.  I mean it.


MATTHEWS:  Tell me about what your experience was over there in Iraq.

MOORE:  I was there for the initial Iraqi campaign, when combat operations began out of Kuwait and pushed forward up to all the way to Baghdad, Tikrit. 


MATTHEWS:  Did you engage?  Were there any defenders at all when you got there? 

MOORE:  As we were crossing the border, yes, there were.  We ran into defenders all through the country.  And we weren‘t real sure where they were going to be.  And they would kind of just pop up when you least expected them.  And, again...

MATTHEWS:  And that is back when you guys going in were facing the possibility of chemical or biological coming at you. 

MOORE:  That‘s right.  And we did throw gas masks on a couple times when that threat was there. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, what is your favorite weapon?  If you had only one left, what would you want on the Cobra? 


MOORE:  Which weapon?

MATTHEWS:  If you were out of everything, all your ammo, what would you still like to still have on the ship with you? 

MOORE:  That is a tough call.  I guess probably—I would probably want that .20-millimeter.  That is going to help.  It‘s good against...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s good defense. 

MOORE:  Good against most targets out there that I might need to use, but also good at defending myself. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I watched—a lot of people who are watching now have seen all that war and combat in Vietnam, saw a lot of those movies like “Platoon” and all that.  Is the helicopter more vulnerable or less vulnerable than it was in that war? 

MOORE:  I would say less vulnerable.  We have upgraded the—it‘s called aircraft survivability equipment.  And it helps us in a lot of ways, these—or MANPAD weapons that you heard fired at us, that sort of thing.  It is helping us out in that regard. 


MATTHEWS:  What is the enemy looking at when they see you coming? 

MOORE:  What are they looking at?

MATTHEWS:  What is your danger?  How dangerous are you when you‘re coming at them?  They are in there.  They are shooting back at us or they‘re out there pushing garage door openers and you spot them.  You know the guy that did it.  What can you do to him?  Can you nail him?

MOORE:  Well, if I can find him, I can nail him. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you guys good—good sight of the ground? 


MOORE:  Pretty good.  We have sensors.  We have sensors on the front.  We have both night systems, FLIR forward Looking infrared system, as well as direct-view optic type systems.  So, we are continually scanning the battlefield, looking for that guy. 


TRAINOR:  And, of course, you operate in teams, so it‘s not just one. 

There‘s two of you guys operating...


MOORE:  Absolutely.  We work together. 

MATTHEWS:  So you fly at night? 

MOORE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And do we have an edge?  Like, we have an edge over the enemy in the dark? 

MOORE:  Absolutely, because we‘re both—not only do we have FLIR systems on our Cobra helicopters, as well as on our ground, but we use night-vision goggles.  We‘re actually wearing those in the cockpit.  And we can see them and they won‘t be able to see us.  We can blacken this aircraft to where we have no lights on and that is a primary survivability piece there at night. 

MATTHEWS:  And you like this duty? 

MOORE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You going back? 

MOORE:  At this time, I don‘t have any reason to believe I am at this

·         no orders at this time. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your No. 1 bit of advice to guys going back, going in?

MOORE:  Going in?  Be ready to flex.  Be versatile, and keep your heads down. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, thank you very much, Captain David Moore. 

MOORE:  Yes, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s an honor, as it is to meet all these guys out here, I want to tell you.

Coming up, we are going to have some well-known longtime Marines.  You never leave the corps in spirit.  Ed McMahon is here with us.  Brian Dennehy is going to talk to us on a tape I did with him the other day, fascinating stuff.  And John Glenn, a great astronaut, is going to also be joining us with Ed McMahon from Marine forever, Semper Fi guys coming back here at Camp Pendleton, California, the home of the few. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, we‘ll be joined—coming up, we‘ll be joined by some prominent Americans. 






MATTHEWS:  Welcome back. 

The official motto of the Marine Corps, as everybody knows, Semper Fi, stands for always faithful.  And that best describes my next guest.  And here he is, veteran Marine Ed McMahon. 

You know...


MATTHEWS:  Well, we all know this. 


ED MCMAHON, ENTERTAINER:  All right.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I want to thank you because the late Johnny Carson and you were pals all those years and...


MATTHEWS:  ...buddies.  And he would have done this, too, I guess, but you stuck to your schedule. 

MCMAHON:  Well, he is a committed man.  He would have honored this commitment.  And that‘s what I‘m doing.  I feel I should be here.  And I feel very comfortable being with all these Marines.  These are my guys and gals. 


MATTHEWS:  And we also got to bring in another big fellow in this country‘s history, a great astronaut, of course the astronaut of all times, John Glenn, former fighter, trainer, pilot, everything in the world, and test pilot, most of all. 

Thank you very much, Senator Glenn. 


You know, Chris, you are there with the very best.  I guess you know that. 

MCMAHON:  Oh, thank you, Colonel.  That is very nice. 

MATTHEWS:  He wasn‘t talking about you. 



MATTHEWS:  I‘m just kidding.  Of course he was. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Senator Glenn.  I want to ask both you fellows, but I will start with you.  What is it about being a Marine that never leaves you?  It‘s almost for us Catholics like you are never—you‘re always a priest if you are a priest.  What is it about always being a Marine? 

GLENN:  Well, I think you have been part of the very best. 

I had a Marine commanding officer when I got out of flight training back years ago in World War II who said that Marine training makes you more afraid of letting your buddies down than you are of getting hurt yourself. 


GLENN:  And that is just the best.  And I don‘t know how you can get any outfit that is more dedicated than that and carries out their duties better.  They‘re just the best.  And those guys that are there tonight are great. 

MATTHEWS:  What was it that was your toughest test?  Was it being in the Marines itself, then later becoming a test pilot?  And you were testing all those equipment with what those planes could do, and then, of course, circling the globe, and then going back again at a later age, and then being a senator.  What was the scariest moment of your life? 

GLENN:  Well, they all had their moments, of course.  And I don‘t think you can pick one out over the other. 

At the time I was doing those different things, why, I had—they were the most important thing in my life at that time.  But nothing, nothing compares with being in combat, like in World War II or in Korea, where you are supporting Marines on the ground.  You are doing flights there and you‘re helping people.  The Marines are a team.  They are an air-ground team.  And they have carried that to a finer perfection than anybody else in the world.  And you are very proud to be part of a group like that. 

MATTHEWS:  Ed McMahon, it‘s great to be with you tonight.  I am a big fan forever.  As I said, you put me to bed with Johnny all those years, always the best part of the night.

MCMAHON:  Well, I‘m very honored to be with Colonel Glenn, because he also flew the Corsair, as I did.  And...

MATTHEWS:  There it is. 

MCMAHON:  I‘m wearing it right here, the great Corsair.  And there is a league inside the Marine Corps.  There is the league that flew the Corsair.  And it is very special, right, Colonel? 

GLENN:  That is exactly right.  That still—I still have more time in that airplane than anything I ever flew.  Great airplane, really take a lot of hits in combat and do a great, great job, but the main effort was trying to support those guys on the ground. 

MCMAHON:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about that, because they are on the ground right now in Iraq in harm‘s way.  And what are your feelings when you see a guy at an airport, for example, like you have the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines heading over there?  Do you have a special connection with a young guy or woman heading over there now? 

MCMAHON:  Oh, absolutely.  And I‘m so glad you‘re doing this program and the thing you‘re going to do tomorrow, because more light should be shone upon the military, what they are sacrificing, what they are giving up and what they are delivering to the country.  These guys or gals are great and we‘re lucky to have them. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, would you go in today, Ed? 

MCMAHON:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Glenn, would you go in today, the Marines? 

GLENN:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Need a little bit of training to do it, catch up with all the new weapons systems, but that would be great. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your advice.  I know it‘s a while ago for you, Ed, in World War II.


MATTHEWS:  And Senator Glenn, when you were in—more recently.  You stayed in almost—you were a lifer pretty much.  What is your advice to a young man—it‘s mostly men who are actually fire teams—what is your advice to them and to women going in to—because this war is just as deadly for both men and women.  The women are getting killed over there because they are in the wrong place.  They‘re just moving in a convoy, they‘re in—they‘re basically on the front lines. 

MCMAHON:  Sure. 

Both Senator Glenn, Colonel Glenn and I, World War II and Korea, we flew in both places, fought in both places.  The advice is the same.  Do what you are trained to do.  Look out for your comrades, the guys next to you.  Take care of the guy that‘s right beside you.  In the military flying element, you have a wing man.  And you would think as much about that wing man as any other person in life.  That was your closest, closest possible buddy. 

And anything you do, whatever it is, in a tank or on the ground, you respect the guy beside you, but you do your job. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Glenn? 

GLENN:  Absolutely right.  He is right on, because you‘ve trained and trained and trained for this.  And you have the best experience out of the past that‘s brought forward into that kind of training. 

When you go into this, you don‘t go into it separately as one person.  You go into it as a unit and you fight as a unit.  You are responsible for the people with you, whether you are on the ground or on the air—in the air.  And that is just the way it works.

The Marine training is absolutely the best in the world.  And you just stick with that training when you get into combat. 

MATTHEWS:  I spoke with another notable Marine, actor Brian Dennehy, one of my favorites, about his service in the corps. 


BRIAN DENNEHY, ACTOR:  I was a typical peacetime Marine, went to Parris Island, did my duty stations.  I served in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, saw some action in some bars in Jacksonville, then went to Pendleton, saw some action in some bars in Oceanside, and then spent some time in Okinawa. 

MATTHEWS:  What was tougher, Brian, boot camp or “Long Day‘s Journey Into Night”? 

DENNEHY:  Actually, boot camp is not as—it‘s hard emotionally, psychically.  What they do is—I went in 1959, when it was really tough. 

But, you know, after a week, you say to yourself, hey, a lot of guys did this.  I can do this.  And you can do it.  And I have to say, they got it right in that movie “Full Metal Jacket.”  It‘s also very funny.  These guys are very, very funny guys.  The hard part is keeping a straight face.  Now, it‘s savage humor and it‘s incredibly profane humor, or at least it used to be.

But I have to say that boot camp was one of those times in my life where you round the corner. 

MATTHEWS:  Did any D.I.s, drill instructors, focus in on you particularly? 

DENNEHY:  I had a drill instructor who was about 5‘6“, a very tough guy.  And he always used to say, Dennehy, he says, one of these days, I‘m going to get a ladder, I‘m going to climb up there, and I‘m going to kick your ass. 


DENNEHY:  But—and he probably could have, too.  And I count myself very lucky to have been in the Marines and to be a former Marine.  It did a wealth of good for me. 


MATTHEWS:  Senator Glenn, does being a Marine prepare you for what comes later? 

GLENN:  I think it does.  Marine training is good, whatever you...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I guess we have got to say goodbye. 

Anyway, thank you, Ed McMahon.  Thank you, Senator—oh.  Senator Glenn, there we go.  That was a little introduction to my question to you. 


MCMAHON:  Do you always ask questions with music?

MATTHEWS:  My questions are too long.  No, please. 


MATTHEWS:  Senator, does being a Marine help you be up for the tougher challenges in your life later? 

GLENN:  Oh, I think it does, because you are training—you know, you train in a lot of things in the Marine Corps, honesty and integrity and things like you have to have to work in combat.

And all those types of things are necessary when you get in later life.  I think Marine training is excellent in that regard.  It‘s good for leadership training, whether you are an officer or whether you‘re enlisted ranks.  And all of those things do you a great deal of good later on in life, no matter what you‘re going to do. 


As we just heard from the band, it teaches you timing. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you very much, Senator John Glenn, Ed McMahon.  Brian Dennehy was great, too.  Thank you, great, all friends of mine, heroes of mine. 

On the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, we‘re continuing at Camp Pendleton only on MSNBC. 




MATTHEWS:  We‘re back at what‘s been a rousing visit here to Camp Pendleton, the home of the few.

And we‘re going to—give me a chance now to meet some of the Marines here right now.

Name, duty, rank, what you‘ve done over there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Corporal Brandon Bartlett (ph) from Minnesota, United States Marine Corps.  I was the recipient of two Purple Hearts during my time in Iraq. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a slow process, but I‘m getting better.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Great.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Etcham Tudody (ph).  I serve in Echo 21 under Captain Zembeck (ph) and 1st Sergeant Skiles (ph) in Fallujah.  And I was awarded a Bronze Star. 

MATTHEWS:  For what?  What did you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For pulling four wounded Marines out of an embattled house and getting shot at while I was doing it. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for your service, sir.  Thank you very much.




Company 1st LAR. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From Texas.  Received a Purple Heart when we hit a couple land mines back in April. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You all right? 


MATTHEWS:  Good.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you all for your service.  I mean it for everybody here, too.

Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Staff Sergeant Howitz (ph), Combat Service Support Group 15.  Received the Purple Heart while driving a convoy. 

MATTHEWS:  Where were you when you were hit? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Near Fallujah, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  Near Fallujah.  Gosh.

OK, thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sergeant Jeremy Duncan (ph), HMG.  Just came over here from recruiting duty.  So...


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lance Corporal Churchill, (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

Engineers.  Received a combat action ribbon for a checkpoint 10. 

MATTHEWS:  Where was that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Camp Fallujah, Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  God.  Thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lance Corporal Danny Mishi (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I was a machine gunner at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  You all right? 


MATTHEWS:  Great.  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Corporal 1-MAG Motor T., Provided security for many convoys, received a combat action ribbon. 

MATTHEWS:  How dangerous is it over there still?  They call it Michigan Avenue, right?


MATTHEWS:  That‘s what connects with the Green Zone with the downtown area? 


MATTHEWS:  Still dangerous, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Very dangerous. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m Sergeant Santiago, 1-MAG Motor T.  I receive two combat action ribbons, one for checkpoint 10, and the other one when we got attacked while we were escorting General Conway to a tactical checkpoint during the Fallujah invasion. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for your service.  Thank you, sir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Corporal Casseril (ph), (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 45, heavy equipment operator.  I served on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 1 from February 11 to June 2003. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Corporal Lacaseno (ph), 1st Marine Division, Purple Heart recipient. 

I love you, mom.  Jersey.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  So women Marines are getting hit as well, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s right.  Camp Ramadi, Blue Diamond. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you for your service.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All right.  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lance Corporal Logan.  Weapons Company, 1st LAR, received a Purple Heart in Al Ramadi. 



MATTHEWS:  What were they reacting to? 

GLENN:  They‘re with 1st LAR.  They‘re in the same battalion I am, sir.  


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  Let‘s go back.  Sit down, everybody. 

We‘ll get to the second row here. 

Let‘s go right—your name and duty and your rank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  PFC Aho (ph), Headquarter Squadron, PMO.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Staff Sergeant Afi (ph), 1st LAR Battalion.  Was a translator in Iraq. 


I want to thank General Bernard Trainor, former Holy Cross graduate, like I was.  Thank you for joining us.  It‘s great.

And we‘re all sing the “Marine Corps Hymn” here.  And everybody, try to remember that first verse.  I know you got—does everyone know the verse?  Everyone knows...


MATTHEWS:  Does anybody not know the “Marine Corps Hymn”? 

OK, let‘s go right now, one, two, three.  Stand up and sing the “Marine Corps Hymn.”






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