updated 1/28/2005 1:55:11 PM ET 2005-01-28T18:55:11

Guest: Eric Smith, Charles Blumenberg, Bernard Trainor, Maria Shriver, Tom Hunt, Debbie Hunt, Karla Hall, William Bonney, David Reigelsperger, Dylan Reynolds, Eric McDonald, Ed McMahon, Robert Modrzejewski, John McGinty

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  (AUDIO GAP)  crashed in western Iraq.  According to a statement for the military, the 30 Marines who died were from the first Marine expeditionary force which is based in Camp Pendleton.  From all of us at MSNBC, our sincerest sympathy to the families and friends of those who died for their country.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to the HARDBALL heroes tour from Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego, California.  We‘re here on base with hundreds of Marines and the Marine Corps band.  We have a four-star show tonight with the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, joining us in just a few minutes.  Plus from the TONIGHT SHOW, Ed McMahon, once a Marine, always a Marine is a Marine fighter pilot.  He‘ll be here with two congressional medal of honor recipients.  But first on stage with me is NBC news‘s militant analyst and former Marine General Bernard Trainor and Sgt. Major Charles Blumenberg, first battalion fifth Marines.  We begin with Lt. Colonel Eric Smith, commanding officer of the Marines first battalion, fifth Marines, 1,000-member force leaving next month for their second tour in Iraq.  Welcome, gentlemen.  Let me ask you Colonel. What‘s it like to go back a second time to Iraq, into the hell?

LT. COL. ERIC SMITH, FIRST BATTALION, FIFTH MARINES:  The second time for me but more importantly for the Marines you see around you, it‘s a little bit comforting in that we know what to expect.  We‘ve been there before.  We know what training was the most useful and that‘s what we focused on in the period leading up to the second deployment.  So the second time back really is less stressful than the first time because we know exactly what to expect when we get there.  I think that‘s always the benefit. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you learn the first time that helped you train for the second?

SMITH:  I think what you learned the first time is that we have to work with the Iraqi security forces.  We‘ve got to get them up to the caliber that they need to be able to handle the level of violence that will be in Iraq for this month or next month or next year.  They‘ve got to be able to handle that so I think we‘re much more attuned to how to best prepare them for the mission that they face.  It‘s the same one we face which is reduce the insurgency and bringing them up to a level of professionalism and ability that can handle the situation on the ground in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Sgt. Major, is the first battalion fifth Marines ready to go back?

SGT. MAJOR CHARLES BLUMENBERG, FIRST BATTALION FIFTH MARINES:  I

believe they are, yes, Mr.  Matthews.  They‘ve been training for the past four or five months hard on different types of training.  Live fire and the other things like that we just came back last week from March Air Force Base and we did some training up there. 

MATTHEWS:  General Trainor, you‘ve been through a lot of this. You were in Vietnam.  You were the CO, commanding officer of the first battalion 5th Marines. You‘ve got a hell of a legacy, don‘t you as an outfit?

GEN. BERNARD TRAINOR (RET), U.S. MARINES:  It was a thrill to be with 1-5. I did command it in Vietnam and I followed them very closely in the war and they did a spectacular job as I would expect.  Frankly, they fought two very major battles, one at a placed called the Saddam canal and then in Baghdad, a fierce battle that took place at a place called the mosque and the palace, a place where they thought they had Saddam Hussein cornered.  So they have a great reputation.  They perform well and I know when they go out there this time, they‘re going to do equally as well if not better. 

MATTHEWS:  We want to talk about the families, colonel, as well and sergeant major as well. I want to talk about your family.  How is your family taking it? I know your wife is right over here with your family.  How‘s she taking the fact you‘re going back into that place?

BLUMENBERG:  Well, they—all of our families.  We‘ve got 400 married families.  400 married Marines in the battalion and they are really pretty amazing.  They accept that this is what we‘ve chosen to do.  They support it.  We say it‘s a Marine Corps family that includes the wives, the children.  They allow you to go and do what you do.  The job staying back here is most definitely harder than the deployment. 

MATTHEWS:  Sergeant major, it seems to me looking at war movies was the only contact I‘ve had with it.  The better fighters are better off.  But it seems like this war, how do you train yourself for IED‘s? How do you train yourself from being targeted by a guy 200 yards away with a garage door opener? How you do you deal with that kind of threat?

BLUMENBERG:  I think IED‘s are the hardest things to train for.  You can never really train for them.  It‘s like hit or miss your rolling down the road.  You have to look for signs that are out there that tell you that there‘s an IED out there and hopefully that you see the signs. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you have a sense of what the enemy looks like before they fire? Are they just like any other Iraqi until they shoot at you and or push a button?

BLUMENBERG:  They‘re just like any other Iraqi.  They walk around.  One minute they could be a civilian.  The next minute they could be an insurgent.  You never know. 

(CROSSTALK)

BLUMENBERG:  Yes sir, exactly.

MATTHEWS:  General Trainor, back in Vietnam you had a front at least didn‘t you?

TRAINOR:  No.  We didn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  You didn‘t have a front then either?

TRAINOR:  No. No. It was a non-lineal war and the operations were out in the bush.  We also had the terrorists, the VC, that  were in close.  So in a certain sense, you have the same sort of problems today that we had at that time.  There were two types of battles.  There was the battle against the organized resistance of the Vietnamese and then there was the Viet Cong who were the troublemakers planting bombs, planting mines and so forth.  So in a sense, there‘s a great deal of similarity between what happened in certain phases of the Vietnamese war as what is happening now in Iraq and you have to deal with it.  It‘s a...

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, you got hit.  Where‘d you get hit the first time?

SMITH:  Shot in the leg south of Baghdad. 

MATTHEWS:  What was the situation?

SMITH:  Doing a movement from one base to another.  Everything is a combat control.  Just doing a movement, ambushed from several hundred meters away and it lasted about an hour.  Of course, sergeant major was hit as well. 

MATTHEWS:  You had a corpsman get to you fast?

SMITH:  Pretty quickly, yes sir.  I was initially patched by another Marine which is kind of what we train to do.  Our big saying is reach for your weapon, not for your wound, because most of those wounds are treatable.  And so you look out here in the audience and there‘s probably 20 or 30 Marines and sailors out here who been wound so...

MATTHEWS:  So you keep firing?

SMITH:  You keep moving.  You reach for your weapon, not for your wound because if you‘re conscious, then you keep fighting.  Something still needs to be done. 

MATTHEWS:  How about your wounds? What‘d you take?

BLUMENBERG:  I took shrapnel to the neck.  60mm mortar landed (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

MATTHEWS:  Any scar left?

BLUMENBERG:  Scar up to the front, took four stitches but I was back in the fight.  Went up there, got the stitches. 

MATTHEWS:  How fast did you get treated?

BLUMENBERG:  I‘ll tell you what, I‘m the one who drove up there so I got there real quick with the other injureds and most of us were back in the fight within the hour. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about dealing with—you‘re in Vietnam.  You dealt with people speaking Vietnamese, general.  You guys are surrounded by people who speak a language like Vietnamese, nothing like English.  How do you deal with that? You got some, you‘ve got training in Arabic, a bit I hear.

SMITH:  We have translators that work for us or interpreters if you will.

MATTHEWS:  Do you trust them?

SMITH:  Trust everyone to a certain degree, just like probably in the states. I trust some people to a certain level and some beyond that.  We have different levels and interpreters.  We all are capable of saying the pleasantries that are required for a meeting with local tribal leaders or police. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you say “get down! Get out of way?” What do you say to a guy who is in the way of fire that looks like a noncombatant?

SMITH:  The term for stop, to stop someone from coming out and getting is “cuff,” like the cuff on your shirt. 

MATTHEWS:  And that means get out of the way.

SMITH:  It really means stop in hand gestures we get them out of the way.  It‘s different for every level.  The Marines here, most of them have some basic training in the basic commands.  My training if you will is more how are you, the pleasantries that I would need to use to deal with the local police chief, etcetera, to kind of grease the skids as we say, to get a good relationship going with that local police chief or that tribal leader. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you direct troops when they‘re Iraqis, sergeant major? How do you tell the Iraqi security forces what to do?  Don‘t we need a better language than just stop?

BLUMENBERG:  You need interpreters.  A lot of the Marines get some of the language training classes but it‘s not enough to suffice.  You depend a lot on the interpreters that are provided for you a lot of times. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the thing that got you when you were over there for your first tour, sergeant major?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) get to sleep, just not get sleep at night or what was it?

BLUMENBERG:  I think it was just when we did the push into Fallujah, never really been involved in combat before, but the sounds and whatever was really up close in the town, just getting used to that sound. 

MATTHEWS:  You were in the first firefight in there the first time in.  Did you want to stay in and keep going or you thought it was a smart move to pull out the first time?

BLUMENBERG:  Like all Marines, we wanted to stay in and get the job done because we knew probably there would be other Marines back there later down the line and obviously that‘s what happened.

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, what are the surprises to  worry about, just surprises themselves I guess?

SMITH:  For this next tour? I don‘t think you can really worry about surprises like you said earlier.  An IED is a surprise.  We use our armored vehicles. We use our training. We use dispersions.  So the surprises, that really doesn‘t, I don‘t think you can worry about what you don‘t know because every day is something different.  You got to go out and reduce the...

MATTHEWS:  Last question, you‘re a Marine, Marine officer.  Do you feel that part of your responsibility is not just getting the mission accomplished and getting your troops home, your Marines home, but upholding the tradition? Is that in your head?

SMITH:  Absolutely, we have a saying that the Marine Corps is like a little glass Christmas ornament if you will.  You can drop it, but only once.  Once it‘s gone, it‘s gone.  And the people who built the legacy that we live on, this eagle, globe and anchor, from Iwo Jima, they‘re gone.  You can‘t apologize to them for soiling the reputation of the Marine Corps.  So you have to hold that and I think that weighs more heavily on the minds of the Marines than being shot at or hit.

MATTHEWS:   It‘s a high bar to jump Colonel.

SMITH:  It‘s a high bar to maintain. I don‘t think anybody‘s ever going to jump over it when you look at the statute of Iwo Jima but we‘ll try to keep it held up. 

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, thank you very much. Thanks to Eric Smith. Thank you very much Sgt. Major Charles Blumenberg and thank you General Trainor.  We‘re going to go back and talk to Maria Shriver who of course is the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the first lady of California to talk about the many Marine families she had the opportunity to meet with and to help.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Camp Pendleton.  You may be able to hear the sounds of the helicopters flying overhead throughout the program and as one Marine told me, it‘s the sound of freedom. 

Since becoming first lady of California, Maria Shriver has used her platform to raise awareness for those serving in uniform and their families.  She‘s visited Camp Pendleton numerous times, opening the first ever military base big brothers/big sister program this Christmas. She and the governor donated free phone calling cards to every deployed California National Guardsman throughout—there‘s something called the heroic families program.  She joins us now from Santa Monica with Debbie and Thomas Hunt who lost their son Justin, a Marine from here at Camp Pendleton in Iraq.  Maria, thank you for joining on the program. 

MARIA SHRIVER, FIRST LADY OF CALIFORNIA:  Thank you very much for having me Chris. I‘m glad you‘re at Pendleton with so many families because my belief is with all of those families that you‘re meeting there at Pendleton and throughout the rest of the country are heroic because they‘re serving too.  Their loved ones go over seas.  They don‘t know how long they‘re going. Many of them single parents, many of them are struggling with housing costs, basic food costs.  And so that‘s what we were trying to do  when we have came down to Pendleton a couple of times is try to start the big brother/big sister program because some of these kids have both parents deployed and they really need the support of an older guy or an older woman to really work with them and be friends with them.

We started the family program, heroic families because many of the deployed people said they were spending so much of their money calling home.  So we tried to make it possible that people who wanted to help families could buy a phone card to kind of help ease that financial drain.  So it‘s been really moving and inspirational for me as first lady of California to get to meet so many of these extraordinary families, these mothers, as they say, who go about their lives without complaining and raising these kids alone. 

And I wanted you to met Tom and Debbie Hunt whose son Justin was killed in the war this past July and I think they represent so many families.  We have about 376 Californians who‘ve lost their life.  We have 20 some thousand deployed, not to mention the 6,000 from the Guard and they wrote me a letter and I wanted you to meet them because I think they bring the war home in ways that other stories don‘t.  We were talking before we went on the air about what these past six months have been like for you, Tom and Debbie.  You were saying that really nobody can tell you what this is going to be like and you‘re very adamant that people remember the kind of person Justin was.  Tell us about him. 

TOM HUNT, SON KILLED IN IRAQ:  Well, it‘s been a—six months of an emotional roller coaster.  We‘ve had a lot of support.  But I think there has to be—the families need to be made aware that there are other areas to get support from. 

SHRIVER:  Because the military doesn‘t often tell what you programs are out there.  I know, Debbie, you were saying to me that you think there are ways that other people here in California and the rest of the country can help families like you who are really struggling. 

DEBBIE HUNT, SON KILLED IN IRAQ:  Yes, I think that, you know, if we can show the country more families that just kind of their personal day to day what it‘s like for a parent who—one parent has been deployed and you‘ve got a mother trying to get children to school and prepare meals and possibly go to work herself.  If maybe we can see a little bit more just on a personal level, just maybe do some, just kind of go into their homes and visit and just kind of get an idea. 

SHRIVER:  When I was down at Pendleton, many of the women said to me that they were struggling with child care issues, housing costs, really, gas, basic things like that.  How can people—what can they do to help you and other families who have loved ones over there right this minute?

D. HUNT:  I think you can just drop by and say, “what can I do for you?  I‘m a friend and I‘d like to be your friend.  Can I prepare your dinner? Could I run an errand for you, go to the post office or pick up a calling card, just, you welcome them.  You really do.  I mean don‘t be inhibited, just say, hey, I‘d like to help you out.  What can I do?

SHRIVER:  I know both of have you another son who‘s in the military.  You have another son.  They have eight children, Chris, who wanted to join the military.  Even though you support the war, you said, please don‘t, we‘ve made the ultimate sacrifice.  Are you proud of your son Justin?

D. HUNT:  Totally, he did his job.  He wanted to be there.  Just like the rest of our troops that are there, they want to be there. They want to get this job done.  They want to help these people.  Justin has been a team player since the day he was born.  He‘s always wanted to help the underdog.  I can‘t say any more than he had the pride of being a Marine and we‘re proud that he did what he did.  Our sacrifice, you know, our heart is broken but we‘re very proud of him. 

SHRIVER:  Debbie and Tom Hunt, thank you so much for joining us.  Chris, I think they bring the war home.  They‘re proud of their son.  They have, as I said, another son who‘s in the military.  But they‘re very anxious that their son be remembered.  I think that‘s the one issue that when I meet families who‘ve lost a child, they really want to make sure that people know about their child, know the sacrifice he or she made.  And they want them to be honored.  And they often think that their sacrifice is forgotten and oftentimes the families are forgotten.  That‘s what we‘re trying to do here in California where we have so many people engaged in the military. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Maria Shriver and thank you to the Thomas, to Thomas and Debbie Hunt.  When we return, taking care of the Marines families here at Camp Pendleton.  You‘re watching the HARDBALL heroes tour from Camp Pendleton only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to MSNBC‘s HARDBALL heroes tour.  Support programs for families of Marines serving overseas are a vital part of base life here at Camp Pendleton and with me are two people who are heavily involved in that effort.  Karla Hall is a coordinator for the key volunteer network.  Her husband is currently deployed in Iraq.   And Master Sgt.  William Bonney, no relation to Billy the Kid, is a family readiness officer for the first Marine division. Let me go to you Karla. Why is it important to have the support groups?

KARLA HALL, KEY VOLUNTEER NETWORK:  Know what? If you‘ve ever talked to a military wife who has had a baby while her husband‘s in Iraq or had trouble trying to get into base housing. They don‘t always know who to turn to.  Their families are far from them.  We just are there to provide friendship, to provide resources and referrals if they need a phone number.  We‘re the link to the commanding officer to the families.  We pass information, the phone numbers that they have that can help the families.  We give that to the families and vice versa. 

MATTHEWS:  Master Sergeant, what‘s your effort? What do you try to do?

MASTER  SGT. WILLIAM BONNEY, FAMILY READINESS OFFICER:  I try to work with all of the key volunteers.  The effort that the ladies who volunteer to help our families as they deploy is absolutely incredible.  They are the strength back here.  This is really a team effort between the Marines and  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and their families back here.  And we‘re—our priority back here is to ensure that we take care of the families.  We cannot do this without the key volunteers.  They are the daily links between the families and the Marines back here.  Especially in today‘s society with the communication network so prevalent between forwards e-mails and phone numbers, if we don‘t take care of the problems to the families back here...

MATTHEWS:  Give me a problem. What‘s a typical problem? Monday morning, you get up?  What‘s the problem?  You get a phone call. What is it?

BONNEY:  Her car doesn‘t start. Her car doesn‘t start.  So the wife can then e-mail their husband forwarded in Iraq and say, Lance Corporal Smith, my car doesn‘t start.  Now his mind is focused on what can he do to try to get his wife to his car fixed? We have resources. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s maddening. 

BONNEY:  Absolutely is. 

MATTHEWS:  But it would be maddening for the guy over there facing enemy fire, wait a minute, let me think about the car. 

BONNEY:  Absolutely is. We have resources back here, a multitude of agencies who will help us take care of that family so that he doesn‘t have to worry about it and so as long as the family is all...

MATTHEWS:  Where is the second set of car keys hidden, that kind of thing?

BONNEY:  Yeah, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Give me some other examples of support activity, some things that people just get stuck with that they can‘t deal with alone?

HALL:  You know what, actually the worst case scenario, we had a Marine wife one time, her three children, she had to call 911 and go to the hospital and her children were taken away briefly.  We needed to go in there and clean her house and buy her some groceries.  She needed some real help.  That‘s the worst thing I‘ve ever seen happen.

MATTHEWS:  So they‘ve got a friend?

HALL:  They‘ve got a friend, someone they can turn to. 

MATTHEWS:  You got a daughter over here?

HALL:  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  Jodi.  Jodi.  Come on forward.  Here‘s your  chance to get involved in this program, the heroes tour.  What‘s that?   Thank you very much.  Scarface (ph) night fighters?  Who are they?  Who are the Scarface (ph) night fighters?

JODI HALL:  My dad‘s squadron. 

MATTHEWS:  Great.  What do they do?  Fighter pilots?

JODI HALL:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MATTHEWS:  They fly covers.  They have a tough job.  Thank you for being a courageous daughter.  Thanks for bringing me this.  Thank you.  It‘s very nice of Jodi to do that for me.  Thank you all, thank you all.  Thank you Karla and sergeant major.  Thank you very much, Sergeant Major, and thank you, Karla, it‘s nice to meet you. 

Up next a Navy emergency physician who helps wounded Marines along the long road to recovery.  You‘re watching the HARDBALL heroes tour from Camp Pendleton, California on MSNBC.

*

(NEWS BREAK)

(MUSIC)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Who doesn‘t love that song? 

Welcome to MSNBC‘s HARDBALL Heroes Tour from Camp Pendleton. 

What happens when the Marines are wounded in the field of battle?  And how does the military take care of its own?  Petty Officer Dylan Reynolds is a hospital corpsman who treats wounded Marines right on the battlefield.  Navy Captain Eric McDonald is an emergency physician who treats wounded Marines. 

But we begin with Corporal David Reigelsperger, who was treated by men like these when he was wounded in Iraq. 

So, what was it like to get hit and to be treated? 

CPL. DAVID REIGELSPERGER, U.S. MARINES:  It just all happened so fast. 

I really...

MATTHEWS:  You took it here in the neck, right? 

(CROSSTALK)

REIGELSPERGER:  Went through the face right here.  And the shrapnel shattered my jaw and landed in my neck.  And from that point, I really don‘t remember too much of what happened. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we have got to go to the guy that treated you.

HM3, What‘s it like to meet a guy on the battlefield when you know he‘s just been hit and he‘s in agony? 

PETTY OFFICER DYLAN REYNOLDS, U.S. MARINE CORPS:  You have to do a quick assessment and realize what‘s important.  We get taught in training ABCs, airway, breathing, circulatory, and have to know how to control those. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you do that again.  I‘m sorry.  What are the first three things you do? 

REYNOLDS:  First three things are ABCs.

(CROSSTALK)

REYNOLDS:  Airway, breathing, circulation are the first three things that you need assessed when you first get on scene. 

And when dealing with a face wound, that‘s, more basically, start, control the bleeding.  Make sure that you have the airway is open and that the Marine is doing all right, comfort him if he‘s still conscious and basically use the surroundings that you have.  Improvise. 

MATTHEWS:  How fast can you get a wounded Marine to treatment? 

REYNOLDS:  Depending on how quickly the helo can get to your location, every single one that I had in Iraq this last time was within a half-an-hour. 

MATTHEWS:  Were you under fire when you were giving the first response? 

REYNOLDS:  There were—one occasion that we were. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re getting shot at while you‘re trying to help somebody. 

REYNOLDS:  Occasionally, that does happen.

MATTHEWS:  What are you told do in that circumstance? 

REYNOLDS:  Stay low. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Captain McDonald, what kind of wounds—we‘ve spent a lot of time out at Walter Reed and places like that.  And the body armor protects your vital organs, but what does get hit a lot? 

CAPT. ERIC MCDONALD, U.S. MARINES:  About 40 percent of the patients, like the corporal, get hit from the neck up.  And then 30 percent upper extremities, 30 percent lower.  And then the main torso probably gets less than 5 percent.  That adds up to more than 100, because people get wounded in more than one place, but mostly head up. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it like operating out in these kinds of conditions, as opposed to back at base or back at a hospital in the states? 

MCDONALD:  It‘s obviously very different.

But interestingly enough, as an emergency physician, really, the things that you do day to day with the patients are almost exactly the same.  So, you try to screen out some of the environmental things.  You learn to use the new equipment that you have in the field that‘s different perhaps than in the hospital.  But pretty much what you do as a physician is the same. 

MATTHEWS:  Why are we having so many amputations, so many amputee victims? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is it because the body armor saves guys who would otherwise be gone? 

MCDONALD:  I think that‘s part of it.  People that might not have ever actually made it to the physician in the first place are saved because of their body armor, but then they still have those mangled extremities.  And the weapons that are being used, the IEDs, responsible for about 40 percent of the casualties...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MCDONALD:  ... really are very devastating.  They really send a lot of different kinds of shrapnel up and cause a lot of damage. 

MATTHEWS:  And they throw a lot of dirt and crap at you, too. 

MCDONALD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And your body has to absorb a lot of bacteria and bad stuff, right? 

MCDONALD:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  And what about these?  You hear about these garage door

openers, the electronic remote control things.  What‘s that about?  What‘s

·         RPG are like having a grenade thrown at you, right? 

MCDONALD:  Well, again, the most common place or common weapon that people are injured from are IEDs.  And it can be concealed as anything and set off by just about anything.  And the enemy is very improvising with how they conceal them. 

MATTHEWS:  Go back 30 years, Captain.  And how much better is our treatment, your survival rate for one of these guys and women if they get hit?  How much better it is now than it was in ‘Nam?

MCDONALD:  I think it‘s remarkably better, both starting with OAF-1 (ph), through OAF-2 (ph), I‘d say that number of patients that died of wounds is less than half of that that we experienced in Vietnam and Korea, partly because of the better first response, the better forward resuscitative surgical systems and shock trauma platoons and the more rapid evacuation through the system.

MATTHEWS:  HM3, why‘d you pick this duty? 

REYNOLDS:  Ever since I joined the Navy, I was interested in joining and serving with the Marine Corps.  I wanted to experience emergency medicine.  Before I joined, I was an EMT.  And I loved working with people in the civilian world in emergency situations.  And working with the Marines, I knew I was going to be placed on the front lines and get to do that on a daily basis.  And it was a large pride for me to be able to do that.

MATTHEWS:  How are you treated you as a corpsman?  Do people look upon you as a guy they may eventually need desperately or...

REYNOLDS:  You have to earn your right when you first get to the unit. 

But once you‘re there, you get indoctrinated in.  And you‘re a part of the

family.  You become a part of the brotherhood.,

MATTHEWS:  Whenever I‘ve seen a movie, like a “Platoon,” a real hellish movie, “Full Metal Jacket” or something, you always hear a guy yelling corpsman, corpsman.  And I wonder, how can you be everywhere?  There‘s everybody is getting hit in some terrible firefight and yet there‘s always an available corpsman.  Is that true? 

REYNOLDS:  There‘s a lot of buddy aid.  We teach the Marines in our units to help us out.  And they‘re a vital asset to us while we‘re out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Let me ask you, did you think your wound was worse than it was when you got hit?  Or do you think they treated you faster?  What got you through?  Up here, you were all bleeding like mad probably.

REIGELSPERGER:  Right. 

I didn‘t know at first how bad it was.  hit took me a while to try to be able to breathe again.  And I was trying to yell for the doc, but I couldn‘t speak at the time.  My jaw was kind of on the other side of my face.  And our doc was kind of tied up with another patient who was just—well, actually he was a little bit worse than I was. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Triage, huh? 

REIGELSPERGER:  He did end up making it.  But...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What was that A you talked about, ABC? 

REYNOLDS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the A?

REYNOLDS:  Airway, breathing, circulation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You were worried about that yourself.

REIGELSPERGER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Show your kit.  Show what do you bring when you go out in the field? 

REYNOLDS:  This is everything that you have to operate.

MATTHEWS:  Open it up and show us.  Take a look at some folks the.... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Explain what‘s in there.

REYNOLDS:  You go anywhere from blood pressure, stethoscope, to bandages, to makeshift tourniquets, anything that you can come up with.  You have to carry all the fluids to be able to administrator any medication that you have,                scissors to cut everything off, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) chest seal to stop a sucking chest wound. 

You have splints.  You have to be able to create a C-collar out of nothing, if you don‘t have it, possible, two MREs and duct tape.  Throw it together, anything that you can provide.  You can‘t carry a lot of things out there.  You have to be able to carry what‘s essential and what you need... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You got tourniquets?  You use tourniquets and compresses? 

REYNOLDS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you know how to do CPR and all that? 

REYNOLDS:  Yes, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re an amazing guy.  You should be around everybody in this country some time. 

REYNOLDS:  Appreciate it.

MATTHEWS:  It would be nice to have you around. 

REYNOLDS:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  So you like your work?  You like your duty? 

REYNOLDS:  I love my work.  I love it.

MATTHEWS:  Captain, do you like what you do? 

MCDONALD:  Absolutely.  No doubt about it.

MATTHEWS:  I mean, you really do bring a lot of guys home who wouldn‘t make it, right? 

MCDONALD:  I think so.  I really do.  And it starts with the guys on the front line like Petty Officer—and Petty Officer Contreras (ph) was the one that saved your life in the field. 

MATTHEWS:  When you see—when you see movies or you read about a war, say, Civil War, when there was no—there was no shots, there was no penicillin, how do you feel in that long line of military doctors? 

MCDONALD:  It‘s kind of an awesome to look back at the folks that didn‘t have all the tools that we had and still had to do the same things for the patients out there in the field.  And we‘re just lucky to be alive today. 

MATTHEWS:  Corporal Reigelsperger, I‘m glad you made it back.  Thank you for coming here on HARDBALL. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not really hardball.  You‘ve been through hardball. 

Anyway, thank you very much, HM3.  I learned a new rank today.  I‘m glad I met you. 

And, thank you, captain.  Thank you very much. 

MCDONALD:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  For your honorable service. 

Anyway, thank you all, gentlemen. 

And we‘re going to come back with Ed McMahon and some other people coming up, the one and only Ed McMahon, a former Marine fighter pilot, who still is a fighter, Marine, and with the San Diego Chargers cheerleaders.  They will come back, too, to lighten up the day.

They‘re all coming back here on the HARDBALL Heroes Tour, Camp Pendleton, California, only on MSNBC. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Ed McMahon and two Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients when the HARDBALL Heroes Tour returns from Camp Pendleton. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the HARDBALL Heroes Tour 

Our friend Ed McMahon is here with us.  He‘s a lifetime Marine.  But for a while there, he was an actor Marine.  He was a colonel in the Marines.  He was a fighter pilot. 

What was that like in your era? 

ED MCMAHON, ENTERTAINER:  Well, I loved it.  When war started, World War II, I couldn‘t wait to get—be a cadet.  It‘s not easy to become a cadet and then get through the training and get your wings and so forth.  And so I couldn‘t wait. 

And I had an unusual experience.  After I got my wings, I was going through fighter training in Corsairs.  That was the hot Marine fighter plane.  And I was about two-thirds of the way through.  And they took my instructor, along with 23 other instructors, formed a squadron.  And they went off to the Pacific.  They needed them right away. 

So, here we were, seven guys, students in this airplane, and about two-thirds of the way through, and the next morning, the commanding general came in, and I was the tallest guy.  He says, what‘s your name?  I said, Lieutenant McMahon, sir.  He said, you‘re the instructor, and turned and walked away.  I became overnight from student to instructor. 

And then I stayed there and taught carrier landings.  And for two years, I trained other Marine pilots. 

MATTHEWS:  How did it affect your life? 

MCMAHON:  Oh, well, I loved the Marine Corps.  I‘m a true, dedicated, loving Marine.  And people say, how did it affect in the broadcasting business?  Well, it taught me two great things in the broadcasting business, to always be on time and always have everything you needed to do your job when you got there. 

Is that right, Marines? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to a couple of Medal of Honor winners.  I want to introduce Captain John McGinty. 

Thank you, sir. 

RETIRED CAPT. JOHN MCGINTY, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  And I want to introduce Robert Modrzejewski.

Thank you very much for joining us.

RETIRED COL. ROBERT MODRZEJEWSKI, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT:  You know what? 

MATTHEWS:  Colonel, why don‘t you tell us how you won your medal, how it came to be that you were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, sir? 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  In 1966, we conducted an operation in the I Corps area of South Vietnam, the northern most part of South Vietnam. 

And what we did was to set up blocking positions just south of the demilitarized zone, near the corner of Laos, to prevent the North Vietnamese army from crossing the demilitarized zone and the Ho Chi Minh Trail and coming into the south to conduct their operations.  Up until that time, there were two enemies in Vietnam. 

One was the guerrillas.  These wore people who black pajamas.  They were husbands and fathers and sons and daughters.  and then there was the North Vietnamese army, which was a regular army wearing regular uniforms with rank insignia and so forth. 

MATTHEWS:  And who were the most ferocious enemies? 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  There were both pretty ferocious, because the wars—the operations that they conducted were a little bit different.  There were no pitched battles, for example, no large unit battles.  The guerrillas conducted operations similar probably to what you see in Iraq today. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  And so it was our job to make sure that we blocked them as much as we possibly could. 

MATTHEWS:  You have got a great voice.  You know that? 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  Somebody told me that. 

MATTHEWS:  You have got a broadcaster‘s voice. 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  Somebody told me that. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you the same question, Captain McGinty. 

I had a rifle platoon, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Kilo Company, we called them, killer, Kilo.  And we were charged with bringing up the rear of a battalion going down a river.  And I had four helicopters that had been shot down earlier in the zone.  And we were going to blow them and then follow the battalion.  And the North Vietnamese hit us with about a regiment, a little more than a regiment.  And I had a 32-man platoon, caught out in the open.  And we just killed them. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

What‘s it like watching the news on TV and reading the papers about this war in Iraq?  Do you get any sense it was familiar or unfamiliar? 

MCGINTY:  It‘s all the same when a bullet snaps passed your ear.  I don‘t care where you are, Chula Vista or Iraq.  It‘s the same thing. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Robert? 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  It‘s completely different. 

Vietnam, for example, was jungle.  It was heat.  It was humidity.  The conditions were much, you know, different from what we had in Vietnam, with Iraq being—heat beating down on you all the time and sandstorms and so on.  So, every war is different.  It‘s unfortunate we don‘t fight them in San Diego, but that‘s just the way it is. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  See, it‘s always either too hot, too cold, too rainy, too humid.  Always something. 

MATTHEWS:  When did you come—when did you come back?  What year did you come back? 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  Came back in 1967. 

MATTHEWS:  So you went early? 

When did you come back, sir? 

MCGINTY:  I came back the first time in ‘67. 

MATTHEWS:  And you went back out? 

MCGINTY:  I went back on.  And I was on the evacuation of Saigon. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.God.  World War II was different than any of those wars, right?

MCMAHON:  Oh, right, and the biggest of all, of course, but more conventional, if you want to call a war conventional.  But like, in Iraq, there‘s nothing.  There‘s no front line. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCMAHON:  There‘s nothing.  Vietnam, there was no front line. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCMAHON:  It was all over.  The war was everywhere.  Even Korea, we had a front line.  We still have it. 

MATTHEWS:  Did John Wayne convince to you join, playing all those roles? 

MCMAHON:  No, no.  He could have.  He could have. 

I was very fortunate to know a couple of people that were convincing.  Tyrone Power became a Marine fighter pilot.  Robert Taylor was a Naval aviator. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCMAHON:  and those guys were big, big stars. 

But they gave that up to get into the military, to do their part. 

MATTHEWS:  For real.

MCMAHON:  And that was very admirable, I thought.  And they inspired me.  But I wanted do it if no one was in there.  If I was the only one, that‘s what I wanted to do.  I just wanted to be a Marine fighter pilot. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s great to be here with you guys. 

MCMAHON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And you‘ll be back.  You were on the other show.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you, Captain McGinty.  Thank you, Modrzejewski, Robert Modrzejewski.  You‘re a great broadcaster. 

MODRZEJEWSKI:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s your chance. 

MCMAHON:  He could be.  He could be. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s your opportunity.  Didn‘t you recognize that? 

(LAUGHTER)

MODRZEJEWSKI:  The pronunciation of my name is getting better as we go along.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I grew up in Philly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We got a lot of you folks around us.  Anyway...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  You call this the hero show. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MCMAHON:  These are the real heroes right here. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s right. 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, we‘re going to talk to the Marines here at Camp Pendleton on the HARDBALL Heroes Tour. 

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m back with some U.S. Marines who have performed some distinguished service. 

Let‘s go to the first fellow here.  Name, rank and service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  HM3 Contreras (ph), United States Navy. 

MATTHEWS:  And what did you—didn‘t you save one of the guys we had up here earlier? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I helped patch up Corporal Reigelsperger. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you for delivering one of our guests tonight alive and well. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Any time.  Any time. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

What is your name, rank, and what you‘ve done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lance Corporal Spencer (ph), United States Marine Corps. 

MATTHEWS:  What did do you to distinguish your service? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Received a Purple Heart. 

MATTHEWS:  Where?  Where did you get hit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was an IED.  I got hit in the face with rocks and dirt and shrapnel. 

MATTHEWS:  You look OK. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks for coming on. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Corporal Lowell Zorf (ph) with the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, the world‘s finest shooting Cobra squadron.  I received a Purple Heart with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines this last time during my second tour in Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Great to hear you. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Lance Corporal Gomez (ph), United States Marine Corps.  Received a combat action ribbon for providing security for one of our fellow Marines that got hit while we received ambush. 

MATTHEWS:  I wish we could do all of you. 

Anyway, this—thanks to the United States Department of Defense, the Marine Corps itself.  And thank you to everybody here at Camp Pendleton to let us start our Heroes Tour, our HARDBALL Heroes Tour, at this great home of so many heroes. 

Good night.

(MUSIC)

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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