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Thread: VMA-225 "Skyhawks"
03-21-08, 11:02 PM #1
1961, Plt 251, Parris Island
1962, NATTC Memphis, 6611
1963, VMA-242, Cherry Point
1963, VMA-332, Cherry Point
1964, VMA-225, Cherry Point, Iwakuni
1965, VMA-225, Chu Lai
1966, VMA-225, Cherry Point
A big thank you to the "grunts" who saved our butts during Operation Starlight at Chu Lai in mid-August 1965.
03-23-08, 06:29 PM #2
These pics will look familiar to you...
03-24-08, 01:59 PM #3
Bob ... I don't recognize your name but that doesn't mean anything ... there are lots of names I don't remember. That first picture, the color one, must be "day one" at Chu Lai. The revetments made of stacked 55 gallon drums filled with sand are not even in place yet.
Lt. Col. "Bobby" Baker (WWII "Blacksheep" pilot) was the C.O. of VMA-225 before and during the Chu Lai deployment. I have lots of Chu Lai pictures, plus super 8 films transfered to DVD disk format. The new Marine Corps Museum at Quantico has a Chu Lai exhibit and I promise them I would forward a DVD disk of ground (flight) operations so they could use it for their display.
If my re-memory serves me VMA-225 arrived at Chu Lai (from Japan) in April 1965 and left in November 1965. I was in the Avionics section.
VMA-225 has had a reunion every 1 or 2 years, for at least the last 25 years, but the attendance numbers are starting to decrease.
I can't remember the other Skyhawk squadron that was with us at Chu Lai ... it may have been VMA-121 but I'm guessing.
03-24-08, 09:33 PM #4
you may have seen thes epics...can't remember where I got hem from...
June 1, 1965: Colonel John D. Noble, MAG-12 Commanding Officer, lead Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Baker, VMA-225 Commanding Officer, and three other VMA-225 "Vagabond" A-4C Skyhawks (tail code CE) into the new Chu Lai air base
First A4 to land at Chu Lai
Welcoming Noble and Baker...
03-25-08, 07:22 AM #5
not sure were to go but trying to find a buddy from when we were stationed in camp pendleton,ca in 1978. name is thomas james moran goes by the nickname devo.
03-25-08, 07:24 AM #6
old marine buddyOriginally Posted by muledog
03-25-08, 06:34 PM #7
Muledog, you would have better luck creating your own thread to find your friend.
03-28-08, 04:29 AM #8
That's the first time I have seen those pictures. I can't remember what date the planes arrived but the bulk of the squadron arrived in April to start putting the base together.
Long story short, our squadron came down from Iwakuni on Navy LST's or LSD's or something of that type. During the trip management issued us M-14's, prior to this we had M-1's. Further, all the ammo aboard the ship was .30-06 instead of 7.62 mm. They got some 7.62 mm ammo form Da Nang and issued a handful to each Marine.
We made an amphibious landing on the beach at Chu Lai ... yea, that's right ... only to find Green Berets and Recon Marines sitting in lawn chairs reading newspapers and asking us to keep the noise down.
Because we had no ammo ... in typical Marine Corps style ... we immediately erected sand bag bunkers with large signs on the roofs that said "AMMO".
Other than ammo, the next priority was digging a water well. Using entrenching tools we dug the well in sand. After several days and shift upon shift of Marines we hit water about 25 feet down. It was a conical shaped hole with the top of the sloping sides about 75 feet in diameter. We built a sand bag shaft about 3 foot square and then back filled the conical hole. We were proud of our well ... that was until the Motor Pool contaminated the well about a week later because they dumped their used oil in the sand close by. Boy, we had a lot to learn.
Thank God the "grunt" Marines were out in front of us where the bad guys were. The grunt Marines manned the frist 2 perimeters on three sides and the "airwing" manned the third perimeter and the single perimeter beach area by duty sections. I don't think the "grunts" trusted our tatics or aim that much. Their defensive "holes" seemed to have most of the sandbags behind them instead of to there front ???
Well that's enough for now .....
03-28-08, 02:03 PM #9
Your memory seems pretty much on target. The below may fill in some blanks. I think I got this synopsis a few years back from Dave Pendergast...
First Marine Division mud Marines waded ashore at Da Nang to protect the allied airfield from the Viet Cong. The mud Marines were soon in the midst of heavy combat and were requesting air support of their own. The Marine landing coincided with a need for a new coastal air base needed to reduce flight time to targets in Quang Tin province and adjacent districts.
Da Nang was the first Marine air base in South Vietnam . Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) would direct most operations assigned Da Nang aircraft that flew north of the base and over the DMZ and southern North Vietnam .
A second airfield was sorely needed. Chu Lai located about 50 miles south of Da Nang was chosen for the new airfield. Starting in April 1965 Navy Seabees worked in 100-degree-plus temperatures to prepare the remote Chu Lai site for an aluminum plank SATS (short airfield for tactical support) "tinfoil strip" 4,000-foot runway. A catapult and arresting gear were planned to allow Skyhawks to use the field. The arresting gear was soon installed but a catapult was not available. So JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) was planned to reduce the Skyhawk takeoff distance by half. Soon the Chu Lai facility had a runway, arresting gear, taxiways, and a parking ramp. A catapult was installed May 14, 1966 .
Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) was assigned to Chu Lai to direct most Skyhawk operations in South Vietnam . The plan was to rotate Skyhawk squadrons to and from Chu Lai and Japan to conduct combat operations.
The Skyhawk --- The Marine Corps had flown the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk since 1957, but had to wait eight years to fly the Skyhawk in combat. The A-4 Skyhawk was armed with two internal 20mm cannons and could carry additional guns in external pods. The A-4C had three external stores stations available and the A-4E had five external stores stations available. From the external stores stations Marine pilots could deliver approximately 8,500 pounds of ordnance ---"iron" bombs weighing up to 1,000 pounds, napalm, Zuni semi-guided rockets, cluster bombs, and unguided rockets.
• June 1, 1965 :
Colonel John D. Noble, MAG-12 Commanding Officer, lead Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Baker, VMA-225 Commanding Officer, and three other VMA-225 "Vagabond" A-4C Skyhawks (tail code CE) into the new Chu Lai air base (June 1, 1965 - October 1965).
Later on June 1, 1965 , Lieutenant Colonel Bernard J. Stender, VMA-311 Commanding Officer, lead three VMA-311 "Tomcat" A-4E Skyhawks (tail code WL) into the new Chu Lai air base. (June 1, 1965 - October 1965; February 1966 - March 1967; June 1967 - February 1970; May 1972 - January 1973).
Still later on June 1, 1965 , Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Baker, VMA-225 Commanding Officer, lead the first "Vagabond" combat mission from Chu Lai striking the enemy six miles north of the base.
• June 2, 1965 :
Early in the morning Colonel John D. Noble, MAG-12 Commanding Officer, lead four VMA-225 "Fighting Eagle" aircraft to bomb and strafe Viet Cong forces near the base.
Later in the morning of June 2, 1965 , Lieutenant Colonel Bernard J. Stender, VMA-311 Commanding Officer, lead three other "Tomcat" Skyhawks on the squadron's first Chu Lai combat mission. The four VMA-311 "Tomcats" bombed and strafed Viet Cong forces in Quang Ngai, about twenty miles south of Chu Lai.
On this mission Colonel Stender demonstrated a colorful departure as he took the short runway and ran his engine up to 85 percent power for the takeoff check. Colonel Stender inadvertently hit the JATO firing button when calling the tower for takeoff clearance and the JATO fired. The Skyhawk leaped forward; Stender brought the engine to 100% and was on his way --- barely getting airborn and blowing sand for a mile after he was airborne from the short runway.
• June 16, 1965 :
All twenty VMA-311 A-4E Skyhawks had arrived at Chu Lai to begin an intensive period of combat operation.
• June 23, 1965 :
The United States Air Force 2nd Air Division, which directed air strikes in South Vietnam , cited VMA-311 for "the finest close air support we have ever seen!"
• June 28, 1965 :
The VMA-214 "Black Sheep" (tail code WE) arrived bringing twenty A-4C Skyhawks to Chu Lai (June 28, 1965 - February 1966; April 1966 - March 1967).
• August 1965:
During Operation Starlite North Vietnamese forces tried to attack Chu Lai but were driven off by mud Marines on land and in Skyhawks in the air.
• October 15, 1965 :
The VMA-211 "Wake Island Avengers" (tail code CF) arrived bringing twenty A-4E Skyhawks to Chu Lai. (October 15, 1965 - July 1966; November 1966 - September 1967; December 1967 - February 1970; May 1972 - February 1973).
MAG-12 now commanded about 80 Skyhawks at Chu Lai.
05-30-09, 02:15 AM #10
Bob..I took those two photos on June 1, 1965 while serving as a plane captain in VMA 225.
08-11-11, 08:39 AM #11
Reunion 18 Aug? Need help for my father in law
I am trying to reach someone regarding a reunion in DC in a few weeks. My father in law was supposed to attend but has been in the hospital for 68 days with a fractured neck. He is doing well, however had hopes of going to the reunion this year. If someone could get me in contact with the organizers I would like to get him some sort of souvenir t shirt from the event. It would mean the world to him as he won't make it this year to the reunion. He was part of SATS and was in Chu Lai approx 66-67. Last name is Cripps
Thanks so much
08-11-11, 10:06 PM #12
This will be a mixed answer. My Squadron, VMA-225 (A-4 Skyhawks) was at Chu Lai from May 1965 through October 1965 (also VMA-311 was there). VMA(AW)-225 (A-6 Intruders) went to Danang in 1969. Between October 1965 and 1969 other VMA Squadrons were at Chu Lai. I do not no which ones. VMA-(AW)-225 (A-6 Intruders) had a reunion in Washington, DC in May 2011. I hope this helped somewhat.
08-11-11, 10:23 PM #13
08-12-11, 11:49 AM #14
Those are great pics of early Chu Lai.
After Op Jackstay and Osage (March/April respectively) we offloaded from the Princeton (climbed down the rope ladders into small transports) in Chu Lai on May 9, 1966.
You beat me there by about a year so those old pics are vintage.
Once we hit the beach at Chu Lai we just picked up ammo, passed on through and headed north to set up fire base between Chu Lai and Tam Ky (Hill 35).
Thanks for posting those images and great specifics in your post #9.
Don't be shy if you have more pics.
Happy Friday and carry on....
09-08-11, 07:09 PM #15
I don't remember any sort of signs/banners when we landed at Chu Lai back in 1965. We came ashore from an LST from Iwakuni, Japan with our packs/M-14s and REAL ammo. Some of you may have come after and got the sign treatment. We were busy building the bomb dump and unloading the AKs in the bay with "peter boats" that brought the ammo to the beach thru the surf. Remember the Sea Bees building the runway and having running gun fights at night with tracers going each/everyway and some even straight up! Supposedly the largest amphibious landing since Inchon, but never have read anything about it. Lived in tents after we got a chance to erect them and ate C-rats. Was 171 lbs when I went in and when I left around October on Emergency Leave, I was a svelte 154. I think WO Brennon (?) the personnel officer of MABS-12 (my unit) sat me down to make me write a letter home as before, just didn't have the time due to work load. We worked until we couldn't do more, slept for a few hours and started all over again. Seems one of my sisters had written the CO about my not writing. I know now that I should have taken more time for others as I only have a younger brother left out of six kids. He was "in country" in either 1963/64 with HMM-164. He was also a Marine and I had him taken out in 1967 as he was married and I wasn't. I also went back again for the third time Dec 1970. Lots of memories. Went all over the world and states with the Corps. Miss the "Old Corps" and had a hard time adjusting to the "new Corps". Started in Dec 1954 and service number was 14xxxxx before the SS #s. I retired in Oct 1976 with 22 years and my younger brother retired three years later with 20. Both of us are Gunnery Sergeants. Semper Fi my Brother Marines
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