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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.
Remember, the party resumes on November 30th!
The squadron has announced dates for the 75th Anniversary Celebration in Beaufort. The event will take place November 30 - December 2, 2018.
Tentative plans are as follows:
Friday, Nov. 30th, Open House at the hangar aboard MCAS to include jet tours, simulators, mock AOM, social time in the Heritage Room, and informal O-Club push.
Saturday, Dec. 1, "Family Reunion" style party at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort with catered food and drinks. Approximate times, 2 - 6 pm. This will be a ticketed event, cost per person yet to be determined.
Sunday, Dec. 2, Golf Scramble possibly at The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island.
The organizers will provide additional details as soon as they become available. Please understand the Silver Eagles are deployed overseas, but they insure everyone that all the details will be in place shortly. Most importantly, they invite all former members and their guests to be a part of this very significant celebration.
Happy 75th Birthday!
The "Ancestor Makers," VMF-115, Marine Base Defense Aircraft Group-42 (MBDAG-42), was authorized by the head of Marine Aviation on 1 July 1943.
Major Joe Foss accepted Command on 19 July 1943.
While on deployment overseas the Silver Eagles observed this special occasion with a ceremonial flight (which included Sam the Eagle) and a very nicely designed birthday cake displaying our heritage. Best Wishes to all Silver Eagles, near and far. May we celebrate many more birthdays.
(Weather vane belongs to Merle Crabb, a RIO who served with 115 in 1966-67.)
If you have not been able to attend a reunion we would still like to have your name on our online roster. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add your name to our New Additions Roster. Thanks for your interest in the 115 Reunion Association.
Our latest members to this list served during the years 1986-1989, 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. Click in for the updates on Lt. Col. Logan and Gunny Cummings who sent along a picture of the West Pac 87 Plaque.
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.
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.
***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.
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.
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)
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.
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
The Able Eagles of VMF-115 took up residence in Korea in 1952.
"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>>>
<<<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
Check out our Challenge Coin!
If you would like to have one, send a $10.00 donation (along with $2.50 postage) to the Association and we'll send it right out. Please include you name, address, phone number and e-mail along with the years you served with the squadron and your MOS. Make checks ($12.50) payable to VMFA-115 Reunion Association. Send it to:
VMFA-115 Reunion Association
c/o Roben Smith
105 Cherrywood Court
Jacksonville, NC 28546
The Association appreciates your support and the coin is truly one-of-a-kind that you'll be proud to own.
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.
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.
NDI Lab / Level III
Fleet Readiness Center S.E. Solomons
Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.
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: email@example.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.
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.
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.
Santa Barbara, 1944. Joe Foss is standing in front of the down prop.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
2013 Reunion, November 7-10
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.
The Jet Stream published articles about the anniversary and the reunion.
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.
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.
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.
2008 Reunion, Arlington, Virginia
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
2007 Reunion, San Diego, California
l-r: Brummell, Hodson, Alton, Sypkens
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
2006 Reunion, Laconia, New Hampshire
2006 Reunion Attendees
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!
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.
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.
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.
The military.com web site has a VMFA-115 unit page which I also recommend. It only takes a few minutes to register, and it contains a lot of names and useful information. Give it a click and see for yourself.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 www.1stMAW.comunder "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
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) amd 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 website at www.namphong.com.)
Michael D. Koehnen, 53, of Jamestown, ND passed away on Friday, September 23, 2005 at MeritCare 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.
Association Member R.J. Renock has set up a "Related Homepage" at military-dot-com's VMFA-115 Unit Page. He also posted pictures from Chu Lai taken during his 68-69 tour. Check it out: http://unitpages.military.com/unitpages/unit.do?id=765203
And Don Franklin contributes this link for the Skyray fans...Try this site for F4D-Skyray information and image. http://www.vectorsite.net/avskyray.html
In 2017 we lost another original member of Joke's Jokers.
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.)
(click on name for obituary)