The Marines wore sneakers.
They moved noiselessly through the jungle in their unconventional military footwear. They carried knives and rifles and dynamite, but they planned to use piano wire — the “Mafia necktie” — to kill.
The Marine Corps magazine The Leatherneck would call them “Tachovsky’s Terrors” in a December 1944 issue (their leader was Lt. Frank Tachovsky). But their fellow Marines in the 6th Regiment knew them as “The 40 Thieves” — a Marine platoon being about 40 men.
Herbert McBride, who settled in southern Oregon after hanging up his combat sneakers, was one of the Thieves. A Memphis native, he joined the Marines shortly after the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. McBride offered up a fake birth certificate that put his age at 19. He’d actually just turned 15.