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Welcome to the VMFA-115 Reunion Association Homepage

 

 

2024 Reunion in St. Louis, MO

                                                                         

Points of Contact:

Host: Andy Riggle 314-313-8842 cell, email: rewr16@aol.com

Treasurer: Patti Kaas 717-422-6796 cell, email: vmfa115reunion@gmail.com

 

All members of VMFA 115 and Reunion Family members are cordially invited.

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet

191 Westport Plaza

St. Louis, MO 63146

 

Copy and paste link below for Online Room Reservations

 

 https://www.marriott.com/event-reservations/reservation-link.mi?id=1694440102070&key=GRP&app=resvlink

 

To make reservations and get our group rate of $169 a night please call 888-627-7066 and ask for reservations at the Sheraton Chalet Westport St. Louis and reference “VMFA 115 Marine Reunion”.  Group rate is available three days prior to the reunion or three days after end of reunion if you want to extend your stay. The hotel provides complimentary airport shuttle. Complimentary parking and breakfast included in our group rate.

 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

 

Wed., Sept 25th

Arrival, 1600 check-in at hotel.  Happy Hour & Check in for Reunion in Zermatt meeting room (ReadyRoom), 1600 till?

 

Thurs., Sept 26th, 0830  Depart for the James S McDonnell Prologue Room for a Private Guided tour and museum viewing. The Prologue Room portrays a century of aviation progress and the innovative airplanes and spacecraft the men and women of Boeing have built. At the exhibit’s center are full-size engineering mockups of the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft that carried America's first astronauts into space. Touch-screen kiosks throughout the museum help visitors to learn more about the products of Boeing through dozens of videos describing the development of the venerable airplanes and spacecraft that lead the way in the advancement of technology, change the way we travel, defend our freedoms, and discover new frontiers. Guests may view a rare collection of fine art, including one of the largest collections of paintings by famed aviation artist R.G. Smith. His bold and dramatic work captures significant achievements in flight, space travel and world history.

 

1200 - 1700  Enjoy a box lunch on the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch with some of the best views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis’ working riverfront on a 60-minute riverboat cruise. After our cruise, we’re onto the Gateway Arch to celebrate the westward expansion of the United States and the pioneers who made it possible. Since its completion in 1965, the monument has taken millions of visitors on the 63 stories trip to the top to enjoy stunning views stretching up to 30 miles to the east and west.  The Arch Museum has a simulation of the view if you choose to stay on the ground to also learn more about of the arch & St. Louis.  We’ll watch The Monument to the Dream documentary 35 min. movie chronicles the construction of Gateway Arch.  The optional 45-60 minutes to take the Tram Ride to the Top of the Gateway Arch is not fully accessible for guests with mobility impairments, as no wheelchairs, scooters or strollers are permitted on the Observation Deck. To reach the tram ride to the top and return, you must be able to manage at least 96 steps, divided into six flights, and you may needto stand for 30­–60 minutes. No seating or restrooms are located at the top of the Arch.

 

1800 Pizza & Salad in our Ready Room back at hotel

 

1900 Business meeting in our Ready Room – all are encouraged to attend as we vote on the 2026 and future reunion locations, board positions, and present financials & minutes.

Friday, Sept 27th, 0930 - We’re off to the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum which is a state-of-the-art facility honoring military service members, veterans, and their families. We will learn directly from museum professionals in a private tour of the museum lasting 45 – 60 minutes.  We’ll have some time to explore on our own after the private tour.

1300 We’ll enjoy lunch at Zia’s on the Hill. To many St. Louisans, “The Hill” is an Italian neighborhood known for its acclaimed restaurants, specialty groceries and bakeries, tiny “shotgun” houses and fire hydrants proudly painted green, white, and red, the colors of the Italian flag.

1500 After a delicious lunch, we take a closer look at Budweiser campus and brewing methods when you take the 75-minute Day Fresh Tour! Packed with history and stunning views of the property, you'll learn all about the life of an Anheuser-Busch beer from seed to sip from its beginnings as quality ingredients, to its crisp taste as the finished product! After a visit to the Clydesdale Paddock and Stables, the tour route continues through our Beechwood Aging Cellars, the historic Brewhouse, and the Bevo packaging facility. Guests 21 and older will receive a Day Fresh beer as a keepsake. Please note that closed-toe shoes are strongly encouraged for your safety and comfort (no Crocs or sandals). Additionally, backpacks and other large bags are not allowed on the tour.

Sat., Sept 28th, 0930 -Transportation and a step-on guide for a historical tour of St. Charles MO. You will see the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center, Missouri’s First State Capitol, the beginning of the Boone’s Lick Trail, and many historic buildings dating from the 1760’s to the early 1900’s.   After our tour, you’ll have time to grab some lunch on your own in St. Charles, do a little shopping, or check out the St. Charles October Fest before we head back to the hotel about 1300 for some down time before our banquet at the hotel.

 

         1730 -- Cash bar opens

                          1800 -- Buffet Banquet in St. Moritz Room

          Mixed Greens with Roasted Red Peppers, Shaved Parmesan Cheese,

          Artichoke Hearts with Herb Vinaigrette

          Marinated Tomato, Red Onion, and Cucumber Salad

          Seafood Pasta Salad

          Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

          Roasted Sirloin of Beef with Five Peppercorn Blend

          Grilled Pacific Salmon with Chardonnay Cream

          Chicken Caprice with Lemon Butter, Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts

          Dauphinoise Potatoes, Wild Rice

          Fresh Steamed Green Beans with Roasted Red Peppers

          Chef’s Dessert Table

Dress code: Business Casual

Sunday, Sept 29th     Parting is such sweet sorrow, till we meet again in the Fall of 2025 at Charleston, SC

 

Link for online registration form:  https://forms.gle/UZaEyBtsE2trNoAi6 (copy and paste into browser)

 

Link for mail-in registration form shown below:  Form for mailing

 

Link for full Reunion Flyer: St. Louis Reunion Flyer 2024

 

 

REGISTRATION FORM

 

Advanced registration – SUBMIT BEFORE Friday, Aug. 23, 2024

 

VMFA Member Name: ________________________________________________________

 

Years served: _________________________  MOS__________________________________

 

Guest(s) Name: _______________________________________________________________

 

Address: _____________________________________________________________________

 

City: ____________________________ State: __________________ Zip: ________________

 

Phone #: ___________________________  E-Mail: __________________________________

 

Can we text you during reunion timeframe only? _____ cell phone #____________________

 

Please list any dietary, allergies, or physical restrictions: ______________________________

 

Emergency contact, name ________________________ phone no _______________________

 

Please note: All activities listed below are priced per person.

 

Wednesday, Sept 25th                                                                                    activity cost X #attendees=total $

 

4:00 pm Wed to Sat, Ready Room, refreshments, Pizza & Salad Thur. night $20.00 X _______=  _________

Membership annual dues                                                                             $10.00  X_______ =  _________

 

Thursday, Sept 26th

 

8:30 am – 5:30 pm

Transportation to McDonnell Prologue Rm, The Arch movie, museum, Boat Cruise&lunch-$100.00   X______  =  __

·         Option Tram to top of Arch (make sure to read tram restrictions)    $10.00    X ______ = _______

·         If over 60 yrs old, reduce your combined boat cruise ticket             ($2.00)    X ______ = _______

·         America the Beautiful Park Pass holders (must present) reduce movie ($3.00) X ______ = _______

 

Please pick one meal # per person.  Choose _______, Choose ________, Choose_________

1)      Turkey & Cheddar on White Bread with lettuce, tomato, onion on the side, mayo, and mustard packets with a bag of chips, cookie, & bottle of water

2)      Ham & Swiss on White Bread with lettuce, tomato, onion on the side, mayo, and mustard packets with a bag of chips, cookie, & bottle of water

3)      Chicken Caesar Wrap – Grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing served in a tortilla wrap with a bag of chips, cookie, & bottle of water

4)      Veggie Wrap – Spring mix, roasted red and yellow pepper, grilled mushroom and balsamic vinaigrette dressing served in a tortilla wrap (Vegetarian) with a bag of chips, cookie, & bottle of water

5)      Chef Salad – Lettuce topped with ham, turkey, tomato, red onion, eggs. cheese and croutons with ranch dressing with a cookie, & bottle of water

6)      Chicken Caesar Salad – Romaine lettuce topped with grilled chicken, parmesan cheese and croutons with Caesar dressing with a cookie, & bottle of water

7)      Garden Veggie Salad – Lettuce with roasted peppers, grilled mushroom, tomato, and red onion with balsamic vinaigrette dressing (Vegetarian, gluten free) with a cookie, & bottle of water

                                       

Thursday, Sept 26th (con’t)

 

6:00 pm – Pizza & salad in our Ready Room at our hotel (cost included in Ready Room fee) X______________

7:00 pm – Business Meeting                                                                                

 

Friday, Sept 27th

 

 9:30 am – 5:30 pm  

Transportation to Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, Italian lunch, & Budweiser tour                                                                                                                                                                                         $109.00   X_______ =_______

 Saturday, Sept 28th

 

 9:30 am to 1:30 pm – Transportation & St. Charles tour                                       $38.00    X ______=_______

 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm Annual Reunion Buffet Banquet                                            $96.50    X______=________

 

                                                    Check # __________             Total enclosed $____________

 

 

Send completed registration form and make check to:

 

VMFA 115 Reunion Association

% Patricia L Kaas - VMFA 115 Adjutant/Treasurer

 PO Box 170, Asper, PA 17304

 

 

### Please share reunion scoop with fellow Silver Eagles. ###

 

Thanks!

2023 Reunion in South Portland, Maine

A job well done to Tom and Michelle DiDonato for the splendid arrangements you provided for our group to enjoy.  Nothing but positive comments about the Maine gathering!

 

Those who served.

 

Members and Guests.

 

***

 

 Here's the scoop on recent 115 Reunion locations:

 

Year

City

2024

St. Louis, MO (pending)

2023

South Portland, ME

2022

Tucson, AZ

2021

Pensacola, FL

2020

(none)

2019

Beaufort, SC (76th Anniv.)

2018

Cleveland, OH

2017

Norfolk, VA

2016

Colorado Springs, CO

2015

Gettysburg, PA

2014

Branson, MO w/Marine Air Groups

2013

Beaufort, SC (70th Anniv.)

2012

Santa Barbara, CA

2011

Cherry Point, NC

2010

Memphis, TN

2009

(none)

2008

Washington, DC

2007

San Diego, CA

2006

Laconia, NH

2005

Pensacola, FL

2004

Quantico, VA

2003

Beaufort, SC (60th Anniv.)

2002

Dearborn, MI

2001

Portland, OR

2000

Cherry Point, NC

1999

Biloxi, MS

1998

Seattle, WA

1997

Minneapolis, MN

1996

St. Louis, MO

1995

Philadelphia, PA

1994

Galveston, TX

1993

Santa Barbara,CA (50th Anniv.)

1992

Indianapolis, IN

1991

New Orleans

1990

Memphis, TN w/USS Pocomoke

*** Squadron status as of November 9, 2023 ***

VMFA-115 was deactivated in accordance with Force Design 2030 after 80 years of faithful service. VMFA-115 will relocate to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and be redesignated as VMFA-115, a subordinate unit of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 14, for operations as an F-35C Lightning II squadron no later than fiscal year 2027.

Click link below for Sundown Ceremony for the Hornet with photos.

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/8116830/vmfa-115-deactivation-ceremony

2023 Version of the Silver Eagles at Beaufort, SC

**Click here for list of Commanding Officers**

You might want to revisit the squadron's history - in short form - from its beginning through 2012.  Click on the link below to see what you missed.

"VMFA-115 History"

If you want the long version, here is the history book in its entirety covering the years 1943 through the end of 1986.  Cover-to-cover there are 97 pages.

   "A History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

***Cruise Books now online***

1944 -- Santa Barbara, California. Courtesy of Nancy Luke.

1959-1961 -- Atsugi, Japan. Courtesy of Herb Weickum.

1966-1967 -- Da Nang, Iwakuni, Chu Lai.  Courtesy of Jim Stroh.

1968-1969 -- Chu Lai, Vietnam.  Courtesy of Richard "Dick" Brown.

1969-1970 -- Chu Lai, Vietnam. Courtesy of Van McCarty.

1974-1975 -- Iwakuni, Japan. Courtesy of Dan "Grunt" Gronniger.

1976-1977 -- Iwakuni, Japan. Courtesy of Ed Bergfield.

Click here to view the above cruise books which are stored on an off-site location, courtesy of Al Robidou.

1981 -- Med Cruise on USS Forrestal.  Courtesy of US Navy.

https://www.navysite.de/cruisebooks/cv59-81/240.htm

  ********************

In 2018 VMFA-115 celebrated its 75th Anniversary.

  Click here for Joe Foss memories & Squadron's observance.

********************

1986-1989 was an exceptional time for the Silver Eagles in that they won the Hanson Trophy in back-to-back years, 86-87 and 87-88, as well as the Phoenix Award for maintenance in 89.  The picture of the West Pac 87 Plaque courtesy of Neil Cummings

********************

"One Fight, One Team, One Family, One Fifteen"

Pictured above is the squadron's newest flagship,

 the first F/A-18C+ to roll off the mod line at Boeing.

  Photo courtesy of Doug Glover at Fox-3 Photography.

********************

2015 Birthday Ball Video

<<<Click Here for Video>>>

2014 UDP

<<<Click Here for Video>>>

Courtesy of Capt. Jarod "Broke" Dicks

********************

2013 Deployment to the Middle East

 

 

Photos courtesy of CWO2 Kenneth J. Middendorf, Squadron Ordnance Officer

<<<Click Here for Video>>>

Courtesy of Capt. Jarod "Broke" Dicks

********************

Click here for a story on the homecoming in March 2012.

Click here for a story on the squadron's deployment in August 2011.

Click here to read about The Silver Eagles 2009-2010.

2015 marked the 50th Anniversary of VMFA-115's entry into the Vietnam War.  If you were with the squadron during '65 and would like to share any  thoughts on the move from Cherry Point-to-Atsugi; Atusgi-to-Iwakuni; Iwakuni-to-Da Nang, please send me an email. Pictures are welcome too.

****Click here for stories.****

(1965 Photos above, courtesy of Doug Hall)

Photo taken first day new sign was installed at Headquarters tent, courtesy of Philip Monteleone.

One of the bright spots at Da Nang was China Beach.  Whether it was a squadron party or just a break in the non-stop action on the flight line,  many troopers list "Going to China Beach" as a favorite place to get away.  Again, a Doug Hall photo on top showing the troopers hitting the beach.  And the bottom photo of the north end of the beach was sent by Phil Jordan which expresses some of  the beach's serenity.

If you would like to review the personnel (46 Officers/264 Enlisted) with the squadron during the historic embarkation to 'Nam, I have copied those files for easy reference. The full Command Chronology from September

 and December 1965 is on the PDF file (47 pages).

It is with great pride that we remember our VMFA-115 Marines who were first in country.

Advanced Echelon

Enroute Support Team

Main Body, Pg. 1

Main Body, Pg. 2

Rear Echelon

Command Chronology, Sept. & Dec. 1965

VMFA-115 Final Mission over Vietnam, January 27, 1973.

front row, l-r:  Jeep D'errico, CO Hank Ivy, Jay Bibler, Graham Kerr

back row, l-r:  Lee Marsh, Mel Johnson, Harry Lee, Mel Krone

 

(Weather vane belongs to Merle Crabb, a RIO who served with 115 in 1966-67.)

Ordnance men standing immediately behind sign:

 (l) ?????  (r) Richard M. "Charlie" Brown

personnel in line behind them: (left to right)

Andy Riggle; Major C. W. Heinzerling, Jr., Maint. Officer; Capt. John French, Pilot;  Sgt. Maj. W. F. Sears; J. L. "Jimmye" Jones; Robert C. Greenlee; Lt. Les Amick, RIO; Lt. John Fogg, Pilot & O.I.C. Ordnance Shop; Walley Gordon

on top of Phantom:  J. E. Labor

photo taken ????, ??, 1970

Photo and names compliments of Dick Brown who has a journal of his return visit to Chu Lai, along with pictures, posted   at the First Marine Aircraft Wing Association-Vietnam Service website.  Here is the link:  http://firstmaw.homestead.com.  You'll find Dick's comments under "Chu Lai, Now & Then".

********************

(Dave Horne provided this account of VMFA-115 being redeployed to Da Nang in 1972.  It has more details than you'll find in  the squadron's history book.)

VMFA-115 Deployment 1972

26 March

1972 -- In the latter part of March 1972 the North Vietnamese commenced an overt invasion of South Vietnam. On 5 April 1972, the 1st MAW received a warning order from FMFPAC to be prepared to deploy two squadrons to RVN. The decision was made to use the F-4 squadrons of VMFA-115 and VMFA-232 from MAG-15.  On the morning of 6 April the 1st MAW received word that JCS had issued an execute order for the deployment of the two tactical squadrons to RVN. Immediate action was taken to stage the two squadrons to NAS Cubi Point to await the execute order from COMSEVENTHFLT. At noon, the first elements of the two squadrons were airborne  on their way to NAS Cubi Point.  At 1744 on 6 April the execute order was received from COMSEVENTHFLT and was immediately passed to NAS Cubi Point. The lead element of VMFA-115 arriving just minutes later. This operation to rapidly deploy the two squadrons into Vietnam was marred by the loss of an F-4 on departure from NAF Naha enroute to NAS Cubi Point. Both crew members were lost in the accident.

The total time required for the deployment of MAG-15 (Fwd), with two F-4 squadrons (VMFA-115, w/12 F-4B aircraft and VMFA-232, w/15 F-4J aircraft), along with support elements from H&MS-15 and MABS-15, was just 2 days. The last increment of follow-on cargo to the initial lift arrived on the fourth day. The total lift of MAG-15 (Fwd), including supporting elements, totaled 984 Marines, 2,099,702 lbs of cargo (187,020 cubic feet) and was provided by the Pacific Command Transportation Management Agency (PATMA), the Military Airlift Command (MAC), and Marine KC-130F (VMGR-152) assets.  After COMUSMACV imposed a two day stand down for air crew orientation, the first combat sorties were flown on 9 April. The command element of MAG-15 deployed to RVN with the  squadrons was designated as MAG-15 (Fwd).  Operational control of MAG-15 (Fwd) remained with CG, 1st MAW. However, mission direction authority was vested with COMUSMACV's Deputy for Air Operations, the Commander, 7th Air Force. Combat missions were flown primarily in Military Regions one and two (MR-1 and MR-2). Initially only MK-82 "free-fall" bombs were used, but later ordnance load were expanded to include SNAKEYES and ROCKEYES.

These squadrons would move to Nam Phong, Thailand during the summer of 1972.

<<<+>>>

(Dale Martin submits this information on Mike Koehnen.  Mike was responsible for setting up the website for Marines who served at the "Rose Garden".  We have been fortunate to have some Rose Garden Marines attend our reunions.  You can find their original website at www.namphong.com.  In 2019 a new site, inclusive of all units including VMFA-115, came online at www.namphong.vet.)

Michael D. Koehnen, 53, of Jamestown, ND passed away on Friday, September 23, 2005 at Merit Care Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota.  Michael was born March 13, 1952, in Jamestown, the son of Aloyis and Jeanette (Balken) Koehnen.  He grew up in Jamestown and attended Saint John’s Academy and Jamestown High School.  He married Sharon Lien of Jamestown on June 21, 1973.  A Vietnam Veteran; Michael proudly and honorably served in the United States Marine Corps from 1970 to 1974.  He later attended Jamestown College. Michael then served with the Jamestown Fire Department for 18 years, and became City Fire Marshall.  Michael was working for the United States Postal Service at the time of his passing.  Michael was a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Michael made many good friends through his mastery of computers, technology, and the Internet.  Michael is survived by his wife Sharon (Lien) Koehnen of Jamestown, ND, father Aloyis Koehnen of Peoria, AZ,  sister Vicki Novak of Durango, CO, sister Nancy Mosley of Pembroke GA, brother Richard of Chula Vista, CA, sister Andrea Carper of Pueblo, CO, and hundreds of heartbroken Marine Veterans.  He was preceded by his mother Jeanette (Balken) Koehnen.  230 Years of U.S. Marines are calling out "Welcome Home.”  We will sorely miss you Brother.  Rest in Peace.

***** In 2022 the group celebrated their 50th Anniversary *****

  Pictured below are members of VMFA-115 who attended the reunion in Washington, DC.

Front Row, l-r:  Michael Stortz, EK Cannon, Walter Hicock, Chuy Castellanos, Stan Prince, Gary Kaitting, Earl Wyatt

Back Row, l-r: ______, Willard Round, Richard Goodwin, Jake Jacobson, Joe Hart, Dave Horne

This photo is posted at a Marine Phantom site.  Is the caption fact or fiction?

 

In 1975 the squadron was stationed at Iwakuni.  According to the history book they were in Cubi Point for  carrier-landing qualifications on the Enterprise for two days in March (12th and 13th).  According to former CO Hank Ivy, the last mission flown in Viet Nam was on 27 January 1973, a 4-plane flight around noon near the DMZ.   The following month the Silver Eagles were carrying out combat operations in support  of the Cambodian government, this action continued until mid August, 1973 from the Rose Garden.

So, did anyone witness or hear about the '75 action??  Drop me an e-mail...I'll post your replies here.

webmaster@115marinereunion.com

Your responses:

Tim Asher writes, "Fiction.  We were in the Philippines."

~~~ 

Josh Smith's reply,

"I saw your post on the Silver Eagle website about the action in '75.  My dad Sgt. Mark Smith was there in '75, but unfortunately he passed away in '03.  So I can't ask him.  But, in his Silver Eagles book from '74 - '75 it doesn't mention any combat action from aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.  There are a few pages of photos from the boat det and the jets do not have any ordnance loaded.  They would if they were on combat missions of course.  Too bad I can't just ask him about this stuff anymore.  Here is a photo attached.  Take care."

 

~~~

And from Mike Schofield,

We were in fact in the Philippines (Cubi Point) at that time, staying at the wonderful 500 man camp up on Monkey Mountain with out hosts the 3rd MAU. Yeah right, they hated us “Chugga boot rats”.  Little did they know we were working 18 hr shifts due to a structural problem in the tail involving the horizontal stabilizer.  We did in fact have a Detachment aboard the Enterprise, as I believe that is Sgt Poe, 2nd row, 1st on the left. During that time, WE had several Detachments out; as it was the norm, “For the need of the Corps”  Also in port was the Hancock, and Kitty Hawk. The Hawk left first, Leaving the two remaining. It was during this time that an A-6 from the Enterprise; while in port was conducting night mission landings on the field during the night shift. We were manned on the flight line at the very end of the Point. I believe it was called Dungaree Beach.  During those night hops, the A-6 lost power (P-1/P-2 Hyd), both pilots ejected on approach, and crashed into the ordinance/flight support shack killing four Silver Eagles. Two were asleep in their dress greens, waiting for the Freedom bird the next morning. The Enterprise left very shortly following that incident, leaving the Hancock. It was during this  time that a Detachment of 115 joined the Enterprise, and I do not think it was for carrier quals, as all were shooting for the Centurion award which is in excess of 100 traps. You could not have done that in a couple of days; unless you were already qualified but just short of that milestone. It was my understanding that we were involved in several operations, to include Koh-Tang Island. It was also my understanding that we were submitted for a PUC. I never saw that one. My purpose of writing this is to help jog someone else’s memory,  and endeavor to put this to rest. There was also a SSGT Vern present from the sheet metal shop at the time of the A-6 crash. He was in the head between the two buildings, Sheet metal shop and OP’s, when a piece of the aircraft came to rest in front of the stall he was occupying. Maybe that will help somebody’s memory. SSGT Hooper was in charge of the Metal Shop, and Capt Pickering was fabrication branch OIC.  As I clear my head more, I will update this. The History books contain opinions sometimes, and not facts. I also understand  that there was an actual “Cruise book” for the Enterprise detachment. I’ll work on that, I have very few mementos left from those days. The picture depicts an F-4B, and that would be accurate.  Respectively, and yes 38 years later, still in the business, Thank God.

Michael Schofield

NDI Lab / Level III

Fleet Readiness Center S.E. Solomons

Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.

410-326-2000  x2128 

~~~

 

Anthony E. Millard seconds that emotion...

I just want to confirm what Mike Schofield stated,  I was there in 1975 and it happen just as he said.  I was L/Cpl Millard part of      S-1 (Admin.).  I was with VMFA 115 from Sept. 1974 – Oct 1975.  Email  address is:  amillard001@yahoo.com.

 

~~~

 

Carl Bailey's observation...

I can’t speak of sorties in Saigon in April of 1975 but I was at DaNang on a turnaround crew comprised of Technical representatives and otherwise of all squadrons stationed at Nam Phong – AKA The Rose Garden. Some of the birds returning from sorties up north would swoop in for armament reload, fuel or maintenance. Armament and fuel was performed on hotpad and Charlie’s incoming rockets at these times would raise hair in places I would never have thought of. I was there of the date Col Ivy spoke of and it was get your gear and get on the plane now, we’re out of here! No one slept well the night before. Me  and a guy named Freddy Futrell, a Cajun from LA. drew fire watch, it was so quiet that night, we kept expecting zappers to come out of the wood work and or a big rocket attack, after all there was no reason to save them. As the sun finally came up the shit  hit the fan! “Rockets Rockets Rockets, Da Nang is under attack”!!! Puff the Magic Dragon really put on a show too, its was still just dark enough to see the tracers. To my knowledge no one on the base was injured. And so it was home to the Rose Garden we went. While our sorties were indeed concentrated in Cambodia there was always talk from reliable sources that some of the sorties  were going elsewhere, I can only assume it was Viet Nam. With that said, I don’t doubt one bit the old wooden nickel was lending a hand in support of the pull out in Saigon.

 

Best Regards!

Carl Bailey

bailey2u2@gmail.com

A former Missile Tech and Bomb Humper with VMA-214, VMFA-115, VMA-311, VMA-324

 

~~~

 

Doyle Nicholson's confirmation...

 

Sorry for the delayed response, but, I was the Ops Officer of VMFA 115 when we were in Cubi Point, and we did qual most of the squadron, but not all, and did not participate in combat operations. The F-14's were on there first cruise and were parked on both  sides of the deck as we qualified. I spent some time up with the air boss and took some movies of the operation. Also we had two  pilots who had gone through Air Force training and this was there first carrier experience.

 

During the deployment, we lost combat readiness when an A-6 crashed into and destroyed our flight equipment area. Lt. Col  Bradshaw was CO, and Maj. Pete Field was the XO.

 

Doyle Nicholson

********************

 

Speaking of Ordnance, Jerry Hillyer sent this patch.  He thinks it may originated in Iwakuni before the squadron rotated back to Chu Lai in 1967.

 Here now is the exclusive story of how the patch came into being courtesy of Lester Kushner who was in Avionics/Fire Control in 1966-67.

I saw the comment about the origin of this patch, and some thought it was first created in Iwakuni. To my recollection we did this  in June 1967 at Chu Lai. I believe Lance Corporal Steven Staas was the primary designer with my assistance. The printing was mine, and some of the design is a collaboration. We had drawings, but to my recollection it was not a patch while I was there. The patch must have come later. None the less here is a copy of the original rendering as we designed it. I can bring it to the next reunion.

Les Kushner aka "Captain Israel" able to leap tall synagogues in a single bound, faster than a speeding matzo ball, harder than a stale bagel, who is it? Superman? No it's Captain Israel. Our hooch was the Bar Mitzvah.

We clearly had too much time on our hands. Staas did a comic book based on Captain Israel. We clearly needed distractions. If you could blow up the names on the picture, every one was given a Jewish sounding name. I think Hymie Hollstein and I were the only Jews in that hooch as far as I remember. This picture is from Da Nang, but it was replicated in Chu Lai. Please feel free to share this with every one.

Les

The Able Eagles of VMF-115 took up residence in Korea in 1952.

  Click here for a tribute to those who served during this era.

VMF(AW)-115

 

Here's an interesting fact about the above insignia from Conrad A. "Al" Jorgenson, Colonel, USMC, Retired:

"Thanks for the coin.  I thought you might be interested in the origin of the Silver Eagle design.  I was the S-2 of VMF(aw)115 during the first three years of the F4D period (1957-1959).  Hap Langstaff was skipper (after Flickinger crashed the first Ford to be delivered and Smoke Spanjer was sent to HQMC.  Hap decided we needed a new logo  and asked that squadron members submit ideas.  My NCOIC , TSGT N. O. Hall submitted the winning design.  Only he had the diagonal lines going from top right to bottom left.  Someone pointed out that in old heraldry that meant the owner was a bastard.  TSGT Hall changed the stripes and came up with essentially what you have now."

More on the Skyray era is provided in these photos courtesy of Sheila McCallum, the daughter of the late Marine pilot Joseph O. Lynch.

Here are the Able Eagles in 1956 at Mojave, California.

Susan's info on this picture:  “Lt. Col. John S Flickinger and Maj Joseph O. Lynch talking over check out list before Maj Lynch’s 1st hop in R4D-1 #134756 with FIP program aboard NAS Pax River MD” and the date was 2/27/56. Col Flickinger was killed flying this airplane at MCAS El Toro while on approach 5/8/56, he  had a flame out.

Here is the newspaper account of Major Lynch's "dead stick" landing which is mentioned on page 26 of the squadron history book.  The date of the incident  was July 18, 1956.

Santa Barbara, 1944.  Joe Foss is standing in front of the down prop.

 

2022 Reunion at Tucson, Arizona

Thanks to everyone who took a turn in Tucson supporting the 2022 annual reunion.  Old friends and new faces enjoyed a full schedule exploring the uniqueness and majesty of the area and sharing memories of their time while serving with the World Famous VMFA-115 Silver Eagles.  Special thanks to Dave and Patti Kaas for taking the lead in yet another awesome reunion for The Association.

(Click here for High Definition)

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2021 Reunion at Pensacola, FL

Thanks to all the members and guests who attended the 2021 Reunion in Pensacola.  Our planners, Jim Brady and Dave and Patti Kaas, really did an exceptional job. The Association can't say "thank you" enough for your support as we continue the tradition of conducting yearly reunions which started over 30 years ago.

 

 

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2019 Reunion at Beaufort, SC

 

Click Here for High Resolution of Picture Above

Click Here for High Resolution of Alumni Only

Fantastic doesn't begin to describe the manner in which VMFA-115 treated us over the three days we spent with them.  In addition to opening their headquarters, hangar and flightline to us, they arranged visits to a Parris Island Graduation, a tour of the F-35B training squadron and time in the F-18 simulators.  And we were able to visit personally with anyone from the CO, LtCol Hipp, on down enjoying one-to-one conversations about today's mission of the squadron and the personnel who make it happen.

The presence of the 50th Anniversary group of Pilots and RIOs who served in Chu Lai in 1969-1970 was an added bonus for the Vietnam Veterans in attendance as they were able to get reacquainted with some of the Aircrews with whom they were counterparts with all those years ago.

The reunion wrapped with a gala dinner in Beautiful Downtown Beaufort and a most inspiring speaker, LtGen Walsh.

Thank you, Silver Eagles, for such a wonderful time celebrating our 76th Anniversary.  You really treated us super special, it was a reunion we will not soon forget.

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2018 Reunion at Cleveland, Ohio

What a fantastic time - Marines from four decades (60's, 70's, 80's and 90's) enjoyed an outstanding weekend.  Thanks to Ray Yahner and Rich Renock for orchestrating the activities.  Kudos to Jim Brady and Mike Hadley for the Ready Room food and drinks.  Dave Kaas is to be acknowledged for securing the customized 75th Anniversary t-shirts.  And thanks to Patti Kaas for the many tasks she handles - registering, communications, hotel & banquet details, etc.   Most of all, thanks to the Marines and their guests for making the time to join in the fun.  It is most gratifying to hear story-after-story, from air crew officers and maintenance men alike, of how VMFA-115 has impacted our lives.

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2017 Reunion in Norfolk, Virginia

Another well organized event with lots of interesting things to see and do.  Thanks to Dave and Patti Kaas for hosting and lining up such a fun time for us all to enjoy in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.  Most of all, thanks to the members and their guests for making the annual trip with us.

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2016 Reunion in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Visiting with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson.

 Our group by one of their Blackhawks.

Getting a close-up of a Chinook - inside and out.

Hands on with the Apache.

<<<Click here for more photos from the 4th CAB Carson Facebook page.>>>

Stopped to see the B-52 as we rolled into the Air Force Academy.

And a perfect day to visit The Petersen Air and Space Museum

 and The National Museum of World War II Aviation.

Most of our group following the Dinner Banquet.

 We were welcomed by Army, Navy and Air Force Officers and our guest speaker was a Marine,

 Bob "Hawk" Hollingsworth, Major General, Retired.

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The 2015 Reunion in Gettysburg, PA

 

 

Our Group on the Battlefield, Peace Light then Little Round Top.

A Pit Stop at the Adams County Winery

Lunch with General and Mrs. Grant at Hickory Bridge Farm

Off loading for visit to Eisenhower Farm and WWII Program

Reunion Dinner at Dobbins House

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The 2014 Reunion was held October 1-4 in Branson, MO in partnership with The Marine Air Groups Reunion.  Thanks to this fine group of Aviation Marines for making us feel so welcome.  Here is  the 115 Group following the Friday night dinner at the Plaza View Restaurant at the Grand Plaza Hotel & Conference Center.

Front,l-r:Tucker, Ord, 51; Van Dalsen, Pilot, 46-48; Miller, Maint. Off., 67-68; McCarty, P/P, 68-71

Center,l-r:Kittrell, Radar, 71-72; Parker, Hyd, 66-67; Brady, Elec, 71-72; Smith, Hyd, 71-72

Back,l-r:Gibson, P/P, 75-76; Kaas, P/Capt, 80-83; Yahner, P/P, 69-70; Young, Elec, 67-68; Scanlan, P/P, 70-71; Norris, Elec, 70-71; Gronniger, Radar, 74-75

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2013 Reunion, November 7-10

Beaufort, SC

Lt. Col. Patrick and the Silver Eagles extended an invitation for us to join them in their celebration of 70 years of continuous active service to the Corps.  VMFA-115 held 3 Main Events surrounding this year’s reunion. On Friday, November 8, the squadron hosted an Open House at the 115 hangar followed by a Social at the O-Club celebrating our Anniversary.  Saturday the squadron sponsored a Golf Tournament at The Legends Course on Parris Island.  And the reunion weekend wrapped up in style Sunday, Nov.10, as many of the Alumni joined the Silver Eagles at The VMFA-115 Marine Corps Birthday Ball at The Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa.  What a great time!  A special thanks to CWO2 Kenneth Middendorf for his diligence and attention to detail as the Point Man for the squadron.  Thanks for tending to all our requests.  And thanks also, to all the Silver Eagle Family for making us feel so welcome.  We admire your service to the Corps and our country and  we really like your squadron a lot!

Here is a collection of photos courtesy of the Public Affairs Office.

click here to see the Open House photos

The Jet Stream published articles about the anniversary and the reunion.

click here to read the Nov. 8 Anniversary story

click here to read the Nov. 15 Reunion story

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2012 Reunion at Santa Barbara, California

l-r:  Dave Horne, Ed Blanchard, Phil Correia, Bob Boehle, Bill Hodson, Rex Pardo, Les Kushner.

 Not pictured;  Frank Zaccaginio.

 

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2011 Reunion at Cherry Point

 

Touring the VMAT-203 Hangar, up-close with the Harriers

 Our group by the F-4 at Miller's Landing, MCAS, Cherry Point

And at the banquet the following night

And for those who picked up a copy of the air station newspaper, The Windsock, how appropriate to see this item highlighting the VMF-115 Panther jets of yesteryear.

 And a little keepsake to mark the occasion (thanks to Jim Brady).

At the reunion Smokey Colwell told us that he was in the process of having a customized bike built with a VMFA-115 theme.  Pictured below is the finished product.  Thanks Smokey for such a great display of your Silver Eagle memories.

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2010 Reunion, Memphis, Tennessee

 Special thanks to our planners Jim Brady and Lisa Hazeltine for such a fun filled three days.

We debuted the new reunion banner...

We ate Bar-B-Q...

We saw Elvis...

We ate some more Bar-B-Q...

We got to hang with old friends from K-3...

We met new friends from Da Nang and The Rose Garden and a Silver Eagle from the 80's who helped take the Hornets on their first West Pac tour...

We were entertained...

And laughed with one another...

And were proud to carry on the Association's mission...

Sorry you missed us. We'll be doing it again in 2011 at Cherry Point.

Keep in touch and let us know how the Association can better serve you.

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2008 Reunion, Arlington, Virginia

 

Reunion was held October 9 - 11, 2008 at the DoubleTree Hotel

 

 

Alton, Dorothy

Longport, NJ

WWII

  (son) Ralph Alton, III

 

 

  (daughter) Donna Sereci

 

 

Beye, Al

Clinton, MD

Vietnam

  (wife) Loreta

 

 

Brady, Jim

Severn, MD

Vietnam

Gibson, John

Cleveland, NC

75-76

  (wife) Jane

 

 

  (granddaughter)  Kirston Leatherman

 

 

Gill, Jim

Robertsdale, AL

Korea

  (guest) Joyce Bankester

 

 

Horne, Dave

Alexandria, VA

Vietnam

  (guest) Barbara Hoar

 

 

McCarty, Van

Meridian, MS

Vietnam

  (wife) Robin

 

 

  (daughter) Rebecca

 

 

Monihan, Andy

Laconia, NH

WWII

  (daughter)  Lisa & husband Nate Hazeltine

 

 

Reader, John

Mantua, NJ

Korea

  (guest) Joyce Gandy

 

 

Sheffe, Chris

Milford, DE

Vietnam

Sypkens, Don

Turney, MO

WWII

  (son) Steven Sypkens and wife Cynthia

 

 

Wallestad, Jon

Westcliffe, CO

Vietnam

Yahner, Ray

Eastlake, OH

Vietnam

  (wife)  Sue

 

 

Trip to National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico.

Front l-r:  McCarty, Sypkens, Monihan, Yahner.  Back l-r:  Wallestad, Beye, Sheffe, Brady.  Not pictured Gill and Reader.

Our visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum included a private Luncheon and a Guest Speaker for our group.

Here's the crew in the Ready Room, that's John Gibson up front in the green shirt.

Following dinner at the DoubleTree, here the Baker's Dozen for 2008.

Front l-r:  Wallestad, Brady, Alton, Gill

Back l-r:  Sypkens, Gibson, Yahner, McCarty, Sheffe, Monihan, Reader, Horne, Beye

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2007 Reunion, San Diego, California

WWII

 l-r:  Brummell, Hodson, Alton, Sypkens

Korea

l-r:  Rogozinski, Uhl, Reader, Gilbert, (Brummell, WWII), Zaccagnino, Gill, Blais

 

Vietnam and Beyond

 l-r, front row:  Wallestad, Street, Gollihur, Horne

back row:Chouinard, Redmon, Takahashi, Ruud, Cannon, Kittrell, ______, Correia, Hagen, Teague

(above photos are courtesy of Emily Teague)

In attendance, but no photo.

George Flores, John Gibson, David Ortiz, Hank Salvatore

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2006 Reunion, Laconia, New Hampshire

2006 Reunion Attendees

 

Alton, Dottie & Roy (son)

Longport, NJ

WWII

(WM), wife of 115 pilot

Blasko, Bernard & Linda

Whitehall, PA

68-69

Avionics

Brady, James & Elaine

Severn,  MD

71-72-73

Electrician

Carpenter, Jerry & Elaine

Port Allen, LA

67-68 Vietnam

Hydraulics

Chouinard, John & Lisa

Templeton, MA

 71

 p/p mechanic

Egy, Carol Ann

Gulf Breeze, FL, 

friend of the late “Swede” Larson (WWII pilot)

Gibson, John & Jane

Cleveland, NC

2-75 / 3-76

p/p Mechanic Fuel Systems

Gill, Jim & Joyce Bankester

Robertsdale, AL

Korea

Mechanic

Goode, Ken & Vi

Exeter, NH

43-45

 

Hagen, Lynn & Cindy

Watson, MN

66-67 Vietnam

Metal

Hodson, William & Dorothy

w/daughter Patty McDaniels

Brawley, CA

 

WWII

 

Pilot

 

Kennedy, John & Darlene

Warwick, Ri

85, 91

Armorer

Martina, George

Blackhawk, SD

66-67

Metal Shop

Moynihan, Andrew

w/John (son), Lisa & Nate Hazeltine (Daughter & Son in-law), Bonnie & Ed Malin (friends)

Laconia, NH

 

 

WWII

 

 

Mechanic

 

 

Reader, John & Mary Schloss

Mantua, NJ  

Korea 53-54

Plane Captain

Shinkle, Ray & Ann

Grand Island, FL

52-53

Pilot

Sypkens, Don

Turney, MO 

WWII

Mechanic

Teague, Ray & Emily

Oak Leaf, TX

1971

Com/Nav

Tucker, Tom & Helen

Crystal City, MO

51

Ordnance

Uhl, Kenneth

Langhorne, PA

52

Mechanic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Click here for Proclamation from Governor

The Pride and Joy of the Reunion Association.  Our WWII vets in attendance.  They are from left-to-right:  Don Sypkens, Dottie Alton, Andrew Moynihan, Ed Davis (also a WWII Marine, friend of Moynihan) Bill Hodson and Ken Goode.  (photo:  Jim Brady)

 

Part of the group on tour–from left to right:

John Moynihan, Nate Hazeltine, John Kennedy, Jim Gill, Lisa Chouinard, John Chouinard, Jim Brady (on plane), Joyce Bankester, Patty McDaniels, Carol Ann Egy (climbing on plane) Ken Uhl, Dorothy Hodson, John Reader, Bill Hodson, George Martina, Lisa Hazeltine, Andy Moynihan, Dottie Alton, Don Sypkens, Roy Alton and Ed Malin.  (photo:  Jim Brady)

A Special Thanks to John Gibson:

Lisa sends out a special "thank you" to John for bringing his wonderful, large display of airplanes that he has assembled.  Everyone agreed the display was a fantastic addition to the hospitality room.  We appreciate you!

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The 2005 Reunion is now in the history books.  We all had a wonderful time renewing old acquaintances, sampling that famous gulf coast cuisine, and spending time at the National Museum Of Naval Aviation located on board N.A.S. Pensacola.  Look for a recap of activities in the Fall 2005 Newsletter.  Click here for a list of the faithful Attendees. A special thanks to all the family members and friends who accompanied their Marines to our reunion.

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Here is a list of Attendees of the 2004 Reunion which was held in Quantico, VA (Dumfries) in August.  In addition to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, our itinerary included visits to all the war memorials in Washington, D.C., a trip to the new air and space museum (The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center) and a spectacular Sunset Parade at the famous 8th & I Marine Barracks.  We especially enjoyed the company of the 59-61 Group which chose to be a part of this year's reunion.  Details of all the reunion activities are contained in the Fall 2004 Newsletter.  Thanks to our Chairman, Lynn Hagen, for the time and effort in putting the newsletter together for us to enjoy.

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Here is a list of Attendees of the 2003 Reunion which was held at Beaufort, SC in July. The reunion was held in conjunction with the squadron's 60th anniversary.  The squadron personnel simply overwhelmed us with their open arms and hospitality.  Marines spanning the entire 60 year history were in attendance--from the F4U's of Guadalcanal to the F/A-18's of Operation Iraqi Freedom and all those other fantastic flying machines in between.

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Click here for Fall 2006 Newsletter

Click here for Spring 2006 Newsletter

Click here for Fall 2005 Newsletter

Click here for Spring 2005 Newsletter

Click here for Fall 2004 Newsletter

Click here for July 2004 Newsletter

Click here for May-June 2004 Newsletter

 Click here for Spring 2004 Newsletter

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PAGES FROM THE PAST

The above photo was taken on December 18, 2000.  Caption:  "Six generations of Silver Eagles commanding officers were present for the VMFA-115 change of command."  (This would have been Lt. Col. Lewis relieving Lt. Col. Walsh).  Names I have so far (left-to-right):  Lewis, Levesque, ????, Holt, Chisum, Walsh.  Any help with the unidentified CO would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.  webmaster@115marinereunion.com

 Footnote to above picture:

Lt. Col. Tim Holt died on May 29, 2008 after a long battle with cancer.  He was CO of VMFA-115 from 1 June 90 - 14 August 92.  He lived in Beaufort, SC.

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TAPS

In 2017 we lost another original member of Joke's Jokers.

  Click here for the obituary for Dr. Albert W. Brown.

Brown would always correspond via email prior to our reunions sending his best wishes.  The following is an example from 2014:  "Greetings to all the Marines and support personnel at the reunion. I regret that I cannot be with you this year at Branson. (Harry) Rawlinson has informed me that he too is unable to attend this year. I do not know if any others from the original squadron in Santa Barbara will be there but I am with you in spirit. Perhaps, Gettysburg would be possible next year if this 93-year-old can still report "present!".

I have included a photo taken with Joe Foss at the Santa Barbara reunion. (1993)

 

All the best all.

 

Albert W Brown (Stf Sgt – crew chief for Corsair 260 most of the time in the Pacific theater.)

Semper Fi"

(click on name for obituary)

2016

Rawlinson

2014

Alton

2012

Moynihan

2010

Twomey

2009

Sypkens

 

Brummell

2008

Teague

 

Lynch

2007

Jolly

2006

McGovern

 

Maas

2004

Stub

 

Hooks

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