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01-12-09, 11:27 PM #31
I too was on Mindoro the day the CH-53 went down.Exercise Fortress Lightning was a ''Full Scale Amphibious Landing on Mindoro Island''
I served with another Marine who has chimed in on this thread,sscjoe.
We arrived via the USS Juneau-LPD 10 from Okinawa.I will never forget that sad day.I have a few more things to add to this discussion,but do not feel it is appropriate to discuss here.
God Bless The Hard Chargin Marines who Died That Day!
01-13-09, 08:58 AM #32
Jim, send me a pm.
01-29-09, 02:40 PM #33
CH 53 crash, Mindoro, PI, 1977
I was googling things in my Marine past and came across this about the chopper crash in the Phillipines in 1977. I was a Machine Gunner in Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3/9 and fortunately for me I was in the half of the M60 Section that didn't fly farther inland to that hill. We (Lima Co.) were desingated the agressors on Mindoro and had spent 2-3 weeks on the island acclimating prior to the "assault" by the 4th Marines. Toward the end of the exercise, I remember looking inland and seeing a plume of black smoke. I knew it couldn't be good. Rumors flew on casualties and that evening a number of us flew up to the hill and delivered some supplies do what we could to help-we spent that night on the top of the hill. For whatever reason, the CH53 went out of control, crashed, rolled down the hill (very steep and vegetation covered) and caught fire. The guys from my section/platoon were: Sgt Smith, Cpl Ernsberger, Lcpl Hancock, Lcpl Layne and Lcpl Fernald. Sgt Smith & Cpl Ernsberger didn't make it-the others did. Fernald was the best man in my wedding. That happened a long time ago. I think about them frequently-Good Marines all!
01-29-09, 02:42 PM #34
CH 53 crash, Mindoro, PI, 1977
I was googling things in my Marine past and came across this about the chopper crash in the Phillipines in 1977. I was a Machine Gunner in Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3/9 and fortunately for me I was in the half of the M60 Section that didn't fly farther inland to that hill. We (Lima Co.) were desingated the agressors on Mindoro and had spent 2-3 weeks on the island acclimating prior to the "assault" by the 4th Marines. Toward the end of the exercise, I remember looking inland and seeing a plume of black smoke. I knew it couldn't be good. Rumors flew on casualties and that evening a number of us flew up to the hill, delivered some supplies and did what we could to help-we spent that night on the top of the hill. For whatever reason, the CH53 went out of control, crashed, rolled down the hill (very steep and vegetation covered) and caught fire. The guys from my section/platoon were: Sgt Smith, Cpl Ernsberger, Lcpl Hancock, Lcpl Layne and Lcpl Fernald. Sgt Smith & Cpl Ernsberger didn't make it-the rest did. Fernald was the best man in my wedding. I think about them frequently-Good Marines all! 37 total, 24 dead.
01-29-09, 03:01 PM #35
Helicopter crash - 21 Oct 1977
02-15-09, 05:11 PM #36
Hello Gloria and my fellow Marines. I just happened upon this site by accident. I was looking up info about the USS Schenectady LST 1185. I was there that fateful day. My name is Michael Parker. I was a machine gunner in Wpns Plt Kilo 3/9. I was with the first crew choppered for search & rescue. That day is forever etched in my mind and the details are like it was yesterday. I'm at a loss what to say but I am willing to answer anyones questions if I can. MAP
02-16-09, 09:27 AM #37
firstname.lastname@example.org. Semper Fi my friends.
02-24-09, 03:58 PM #38
I was with 3/9 81's platoon. We were left at Subic Bay. I talked to some of the guys 1-2 days before they left. A lot of them went to ITS with me at Pendleton. The names and faces grayed over the last 31 years, but the years immediately following were haunted by dreams and memories. I have a chilling picture of my buddy Mark standing next to a water buffalo on the Juneau. We never got a full list of those who perished. And I found out over the next few months a number of buddies I would never see again.
02-24-09, 05:51 PM #39
Thanks for the reply Mr. Max,
Let me know if you would prefer a different form of address. Anyway, it is always good to hear from a fellow Marine particularly one that I have served with. I have also been fortunate enough to have heard from sscjoe (Joe) and ameriken (Ken). What a pleasure and honor to communicate with all of you.
I was there my friend and I have shared; privately, some details of that day with the two of them. I do have some pictures of memorabilia I saved from that day. But I would prefer to limit detail and specifics to a different venue. I would like to see the picture you have of the water buffalo. My best friend (now brother-in-law) was with H&S 3/9 and was also on the Juneau but was actually at Subic Bay during the time of the crash (were my brother also happened to be stationed with the Marine Barracks Duty). If you or anyone else would like additional detail that I am aware of I can be reached personally at email@example.com and am willing to share what I know. Thanks Max...
02-26-09, 04:00 PM #40
october 21, 1977
Have not visited this website for many months and thank you for your messages to me. Also thank you for your tremendous rescue effort and as obvious it has not been easy for many of you. I hope I am not intruding since I am not a Marine and all but if my husband were still alive he would be here sharing his memories of Mindora so instead here are his own words in letters to me. I think some of you might be interested in this written history of the days leading up to October 21, 1977. Also thank you for the undulgence of letting me share a little of a great Marine, my husband, Sgt. Charles Anderson, with you.
October 14, 1977 (USS Duluth)
Well love, Iím still here in the South China Sea. We are nearing what is referred to as the strait of Mindoro. So we are nearing the exercise area. From what I guess they are going to off load the ďgruntsĒ tomorrow. We will fly to our base camp the following day.
You can sure tell that we are heading south because it really is starting to get hot. Iím glad the area that we are working out of is air-conditioned or it would really be a mess. But in comparison to the USS New Orleans this boat is nice. I still canít stand it, ha ha, but itís so much better than what we were stuck on before.
October 15, Chuck
We are in the first part of the exercise. The grunts are all being put ashore today. The bay that our ship is in is really hectic. There must be twenty huge ships in it. Then hundreds of small landing craft, making assault waves on the beach. In the air, of course helicopters, flying all over the place dropping supplies and inserting troops into key locations. Itís really an impressive sight to watch all of this going on.
Oh yes, Iím working hard up in my air-conditioned office. Ha Ha. Wait till tomorrow when we off load the boat - gulp! Then all the work begins and all the long hours start. Today was kind of nice because I got to sleep in until almost 10 oíclock. We got up at five but all the aircraft had taken off by six. The only three people here were Lt. John McAfee, Cpl. Williams and myself. So after we picked up the classified messages we all decided, hell why not get some extra sleep? Hon, I must have needed it because I put my head down and I was out like a light, zap! The next thing I knew when I woke up it was 10:10. I got up and came up here. Well, Sweetie, I better close this letter up. I sure hope everything is going OK at home for you. If you have any problem or need anything let me know Ok, Hon? If anyone bothers you or anything let either myself or somebody know OK dear. Well, I got to go for now. Take care of yourself and Sam, think of me and say a little prayer for us.
All my love,
October 15th late and 16th, Chuck
Iím writing this letter late tonight because Iím really sure the way things are going that my free time it going to be very minimal or in other words very little. Iím the only troop with a clearance of secret or higher so I am the only one who can type out the classified messages. Sweetheart, there is a whole bunch of them. I did three tonight and itís weird because I swear weíre the only people who are up on this whole ship. Oh well, war is hell.
Hey, you know what we almost forgot? I have been over here five months, so five down and seven to go. Next month at this time it will be half over. Heck, Hon, before we know it, Iíll be home.
We still have not received any mail since we were on ship. Itís most probably back on the isle of Oki, the tropical paradise for nuts, ha ha.
October 16, Chuck
Well, doll, howís it going today back in the world? Iíll bet a hell of a lot better than here....although Iím not going to yap and yap about it. So Sweetie hereís some news I thought I Ďd relay to you. Thereís a chance of an aircraft going into Cubi Point. If one in fact goes Iíll try to get on it and make a run to Olongpo City..... about one mile from the air strip and do some Christmas shopping.
So Iíll send them home to you and you could wrap it., ok ok. Because of the mail taking as long as it does and all, you will get them around Thanksgiving time. At least you will have them for Christmas in time.
Hon, I donít know if I ever told you about Lt. Watson? Well, anyway, heís a really swell guy, in fact the really nicest man Iíve met in quite a while. He came in and talked to me before and he asked me about you and Sam. What our intentions were and we just talked about military life in actuality. He was the son of a sergeant and his father still is in the Marine Corps. He was telling me about his personal experience being a dependent in the military. Some of the good and bad things that goes with it. He suggested to me that you and I both read a book titled, ďThe Great Santini.Ē The author is Pat Conroy. He said it is so real it made him either laugh or almost cry because it truly relates to actual situations that we have or will have in the future. So I told him I would relay it on to you. He said itís in paperback so you should have no problem finding it.
October 17, Chuck
We are now established on shore on the island of Mindoro. Right now Iím sitting in a field tent. I am going to try to tell you about what has been going on here so far and whatís going to happen and just how it is on the island.
We landed in a water buffalo pasture. There must have been fifteen of them around the area when we landed. Weíre about 500 feet from the beach and it makes it really nice as far as being able to go swimming is concerned. Honey, itís more funny than anything that you could ever imagine. Here we are dumped in the middle of a pasture. Itís in the afternoon so we tried to put up the tents we were going to live in. Sgt. Waterhouse and I shared our tent. Honey, it was more like a group of small boy scouts trying to do something. One couldnít fine the tent pegs; another couldnít get his rope in the hole to string it, all the while, people stepping in water buffalo ****. Ha ha. Gloria I wish the news teams could have seen this. The nations finest fighting force at its finest hour. Well, old Waterhouse and I got our tent set up within 10 minutes (the first ones done only because we used the same kind of tent in boy scouts.)
When they finished and all the gear was stored away we set out to locate the sick-minded people who planned this operation, ha ha. Actually we tried to get a hold of the supply people so we would get a water trailer, cots and food (C-rats) and also three cases of beer for all the hard work we did. Honey, you could really tell that there were air wing personnel here. By 7 oíclock we had a full swing party going and the HMH-462 Heavy Haulers were all set up.
I really donít think the Commanding Officer was very impressed when he landed here at night. I was the taxi director. Iím not really qualified to direct in a aircraft but how are you going to learn if you donít do it, so I did. He kind of laughed when he seen who it was. I did OK and I got them to land without hitting another aircraft so every aircraft that comes in Iím out there doing my thing.
Now listen to this (All true--no bull****, or water buffalo ****, ha ha). We almost had mail today but when the jeep was on its way over it was hit by a large truck. Someone thought the mail was suppose to go back to Futenma Air station in Okinawa so they sent it back. It has since been taken care of and we should have it in the next hour or so.
Now for the big laugh. Here we are and no one has been paid yet so they sent a message to the ship asking where the pay officer was. This is what they told us. He was going from boat to boat paying the Marine detachments. When he got off our helicopter on board the USS Juneau he fell overboard the side of the ship right in the ocean. He held on to our checks because his suitcase was handcuffed to his wrist. Well, our checks are hanging up and drying along with about 4000 more aboard the USS Juneau. They said that we could have them tomorrow. The only problem is that there is no place to cash them. As soon as we get a flight in to Cubi then Iíll get a money order and send you my complete paycheck because I wonít need any while Iím here.
Iíll write more later I got to go now.
October 18, l977
Just a few words to say Iím doing great out here in the field. When they briefed us for this I really think they make it sound a lot worse than it is. I really havenít been bothered by mosquitoes at all, but there are a lot of flies and bugs. The weather thus far has been really good. The temperature is in the mid 80ís and it rained about 20 minutes the first night we were here. Aside from that itís just been beautiful, the sun bright and no cloud cover at all.
We finally got MAIL today and I got a whole bunch of mail from you. Thanks honey, you will never know how good it feels to get news from home. Honey, thank you for caring like you do. It may sound silly but the love you send in each letter means so much
October 19, Chuck
Just a few words to say Hi and that Iím doing great out here in the field. Honey, to tell you just how good we have things set up, the Mag-36 Commanding Officer referred to us in a brief as the four hundred sixty second MASH! Ha Ha. Wait until you see the photos of this place. We really have it nice here. But from what I heard itís not too great a few miles from here. So far they have ďmedically evacuatedĒ 17 Marines due to snakebites in the hills.
Supposing today they will get our pay checks to us. Right now nobody has any money. We are in a combined effort to scrap enough cash to keep soda and ice in the camp. If ever we do get our checks today Iíll try to send most of my check. Go and try to put most of it in our ď no touch boat accountĒ whoops I meant our ďno touch bank accountĒ gulp! Ha Ha.
October 20, l977
Well, itís the TWENTY FIRST time I killed a fly this morning and I ďgot my limitĒ so I figured I had better write to a few lines. The beauty of this place is rapidly wearing off. When you eat nothing but C-rations for a week you would know what I mean.
Itís not so bad at first but when everyone gets constipated and canít take a bowel movement, if you know what I mean, ha ha, it gets rough. But weíre hanging in there.
Someone suggested water buffalo steaks but the commanding officer quickly put a stop to that threat. Here I thought I would open up my own ďBrown DerbyĒ ha ha.
Another bright suggestion was to have a water buffalo rodeo, so cowboy Charlie, ha ha might have his big chance tonight.
I wrote Sam a little letter so he should be receiving it in the mail. I stuck a packet of cocoa mix in it. He should get a big kick out to that.
Hey honey, did you ever get the flowers I sent you. I hope so. Also I sent a money order for 100 dollars. So you should have got that by now. Last night I went to bed early because I just was all tired out and felt yuck! I woke up about 5:30 this morning and felt great so I just might try going to sleep early again tonight. Well honey, I know this was a crazy letter but I thought I would at least write to let you know whatís been happening.
My lovely wife, I love you with all my heart. Be good and say a little prayer for us tonight.
All my love
October 21, l977
Iím standing in the post office at Cubi Point and writing this. Hereís some money $125. 00. Try to save some OK
02-26-09, 09:17 PM #41
Gloria, I am speechless reading the letters, and speechless that you even shared them. Thank you. And you are always welcome here!
02-26-09, 10:08 PM #42
Thanks Ken, it was a leap of faith.
02-26-09, 10:21 PM #43
I am sure that anyone here who was connected to that tragedy will appreciate them and I hope it encourages others to share their stories. Semper Fi!!
02-27-09, 12:40 AM #44
32 Years! I don't know you, Gloria and you don't know me. Because you are so troubled about that incident, and your personal loss, I'll lite a candle, for you, and your sweetheart...tomorrow, at Church. My prayers, for your healing, and finding some closure, will be heard. God Bless, and know that I hope you find some peace, and solace......DOC
02-27-09, 08:51 PM #45
I never had the honor of meeting Chuck but I did have the honor of knowing others who died that day. You and Sam cherish those letters I'm sure. Thanks for sharing them with us. The privilege is ours.
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