VMF/VMF(AW)/VMFA-115

Marine Reunion Association

Spring 2006 Newsletter- Lynn Hagen, Editor

 

A reunion group of former Marines attached to the squadron from its inception in July 1943 to the active duty Marine personnel of the squadron today.

 

Lynn Hagen, Chairman, 12000 First St. W., Watson, MN  56295

320 269-8925, email> lynnhagen@maxminn.net

 

Jim Gill   1st Vice Chairman, P.O. Box 377 Robertsdale, AL  35667, 251 947-4900

Van McCarty, Executive Committee, Meridian, MS

Jerry Ruud, Executive Committee, Mahah, NJ

 

REUNION PLANNED FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE, SEPTEMBER 29 & 30, 2006

 

            We are in the planning stages for the next reunion to be held at The Margate on Winnepesukee in Laconia, New Hampshire.   Laconia is located mid-state, just north of the state capitol and just south of the beautiful White Mountains.  Laconia is known as the "City on the Lakes" as three lakes, Opechee, Winnisquam and the states largest lake, Winnipesaukee, surround it.

            Our host this year will be Andy Moynihan and his daughter, Lisa Hazeltine.  They decided at the Pensacola reunion to host this year’s reunion and Liza has really gotten everything arranged.   Andy was an original member of the squadron when formed in 1943 at Santa Barbara.  They have assured us of a good time.  Laconia is approximately 2 hours drive north of Boston.

            The Margate ( www.themargate.com ) will be accepting reservations by calling (603) 524-5210 or 1-800-627-4283.  Room rates are $119.00 for a courtyard view and $149.00 for a lake view.  A complimentary breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Please identify yourself as being part of the Marine Reunion group of VMF-115 when you are making your arrangements with the hotel. The code for our contract rate is "VMF"

            The registration fee is $60.00 per person if mailed in by July 15.  After August 1, 2006, the registration will be $70.00 per person. Take advantage of this early bird special! This will give us the opportunity to get the numbers early for planning purposes.

The registration fees need to be sent to Lynn Hagen 12000 First St. W. Watson, MN. 56295.  Please make checks made out to the VMF/ VMFA-115 Marine Reunion Assn.

            Again this year we will try to arrive Thursday or earlier, with our reunion starting Friday morning with the annual business meeting, then on to touring Friday and Saturday with a banquet Saturday evening.

Lisa is working on getting tours together, and this will depend on how many want to go on the tours and our overall attendance figures.  (Lisa stated:the two tours that have been set up are: Friday - Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Saturday - a 2 1/2 hour cruise on Lake Winnipesaukeee aboard the Steamship Mt Washington.”

 

TAPS

 

                 JOHN B. “JACK” MASS, JR., FREDRICKSBURG, VA

 

                Jack was a pilot in VMF-115 in 1952-53 and was our guest speaker at our Quantico Reunion in 2004. An obituary printed in the January 2006 issue of Leatherneck magazine stated he was 85 years old at the time of death.

The obituary stated that he was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, who later fought in the skies over Guadalcanal and Okinawa.  Jack flew more than 380 missions in two wars. Jack is credited with 5.5 kills while flying with VMF-112 and VMF-322.  His personal awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with combat "V" and numerous air medals.

            After retiring from the Marine Corps, Jack was the manager at Shannon Airport, Fredericksburg, VA.

 

                JOE MCGOVERN, VMF-115, 1943-45

 

                Joe passed away in January 2006 in Sarasota, Florida.   Joe was an original pilot when the squadron was formed at Santa Barbara in 1943.  Joe was 84 years of age. It is believed that there are only two pilots from the original squadron still alive. The funeral was January 8 at Sarasota.

The information was passed on by Harry Rawlinson.

 

                BRUCE ECK, USN/VMF-115, 1943-45

 

                I received a call from Mrs. Bruce Eck notifying us of his death January 26, 2006 at the age of 83.  Bruce was a corpsman along with Bob White as corpsman in the squadron in the Pacific. His obituary list is birthplace as Noblesville, Indiana and Noblesville as his place of death. It states his time with VMF-115 as 1942-45.   Mrs. Eck has been trying to contact Bob White or his family. His name has dropped from the roster in the past.  Those who would like to contact Mrs. Eck can at 18431 Piers End Drive, Noblesville IN 46062.

            Does anyone have any information on Corpsman Bob White?

 

 

 

Receipts for donations

 

                If I have forgotten to mail receipts for donations, please let me know.  I seem to forget a lot lately.  Also if you know someone who isn't receiving the newsletter, let me know.

 

THESE FORMER MARINES ARE PLANNING TO ATTEND THE RENION THIS YEAR IN LACONIA, NH

 

            I am printing this as a guideline to let folks know who is planning/tentatively planning to come to New Hampshire. 

 

Milton Casey, Radar shop –Atsugi, Japan, 1960/61, living in Lakeland TN.  >mcasey@midsouth.rr.com

John Cowley, Woods Hole, MA. > jcowley@gruwoodshole.uscg.mil

Larry Grace, Brooklyn, NY- WWII, 1943-45

Don & Carole Bowen > dpb1761@hotmail.com

Ron "Skitch" Henderson, Rutland VT 802 775-6528

 

NEW/UPDATED EMAIL ADDRESSES

 

William (Larry) Hazelrigs > lrigs531@yahoo.com

Donald Schmick  > ????????????????????????

Ron "Skitch" Henderson, > SkitchUSMC@aol.com

          

Red Twomey, who is now 88 years old, is recovering from heart surgery.  The email states his condition as "good" on March 12, 2006.  Red's email states he has had a new heart valve. He is doing better, is driving and a little walking, otherwise, just watches TV.  Red is planning to attend this year’s reunion in New Hampshire.

Those who want to mail cards; the address is P.O. Box 824, Athens, TX 75751. > email is LtwoanJudy@aol.com

 

"BEYOND A DREAM"

"Beyond a Dream" is an autobiography written by Clyde B. Brummell who was an original member of VMF-115 starting at Santa Barbara and serving a complete war tour in the Pacific.   Clyde lives in Portland, Oregon and has been instrumental in getting the reunions organized and funded for many years, serving as chairman and doing the newsletter for many years.

            Clyde has decided to write his autobiography of his life starting in Southeastern Oklahoma, starting with things he remembered as a boy. His story tells of his mother, who was related to the now famous “James Gang" and his stepfather struggling to making a living working in the lumber mills and trying to farm on a "share crop" basis.

            Clyde was born in Southeastern Oklahoma and was raised by his step father, Frank James who was related to the "James Gang" as distant relatives.  The James family had a very large family of uncles, cousins, in the area Clyde was born in.   He describes in his book, the hardships of sharecroppers, living in homes owned by the lumber mills, his step fathers working in the sawmills and any other jobs to provide for the family.  Clyde relates everything he could do to make money from working for others, raising peanuts, picking cotton, and trying to maintain his high school academics. 

            The family went though the hardships of the depression moving and working their way though the west and ending in Oregon.  This book is a must for those interested in the history of the depression for those who lived in the south and the migration to the west coast.  If you would like to purchase this book, you may contact Clyde Brummell,  8435 SE 17th Ave.,  Portland, Oregon  97202-7308. 503 233-4841 or cell 503 936-4862.

 

THOSE WHO HAVE CONTACTED ME RECENTLY

 

           Capt. Chamberlin, a current Silver Eagle pilot who was looking for reunion alumni associations.  I also got an email from his Commanding Officer, Lt. Col Nash, and I forwarded a copy of our roster to him.

Larry Grace /Laura Grace dropped a note for her father, Larry, who was in the original squadron in 1943-45 as a parachute rigger. He is now 85 years old and a few medical problems, but wants to come to the reunion this fall. His last reunion was at Philadelphia.  Lawrence Grace, 429 78th St., Brooklyn NY 11209-3403.

            Jimmye L. Jones, served in 115 at Cherry Point in 1962-65 and again at Atsugi, Japan in 1965-66, Vietnam in 66, and back to Vietnam again in 1969.  Jimmye worked in ordnance. Jimmye retired as a GySgt. and lives at 6 Vance St. Greenville, NC 252 752-7196 and email > jimmyej@cox.net.

Milton Casey, was in 115 at Cherry Point, NC, then deploying to Atsugi, Japan in 1960.  After the Japan tour, Milton was transferred to VMF-112 at NAS, Dallas. His other tours included H&MS-31 at Beaufort, then with VMFA-542 at Danang, then to NAS Memphis and then retired from USMC with H&MS 20 at Cherry Point in January 1974. Milton lives today at 3441 Foot Bridge Cv., Lakeland, TN 38002, which is near Memphis.  >mcasey@midsouth.rr.com

              Ron "SkitchHenderson, > SkitchUSMC@aol.com

      Ron was on active duty from 1969 to 1978.  He also list USMC/ USAR retired with his email.  Ron served with 115 at Iwakuni when they came to replace VMFA-334. He is interested in coming to New Hampshire reunion.  He just retired from General Electric, Aircraft Engine department.  220 Mussey St., Rutland VT 05701, 802 775-6528

            Jim Saczko, 1117 Pepper Drive, El Cajon, CA 92021.  Jim was an ordnance man with 115 from 27 Nov 1967 to 15 July 1969 at Chu Lai.

            Albert Brown, PO Box 184, Stow, NY 14701, 716-763-9067, dropped a note about wanting to attend a reunion.  Albert was in the original squadron when formed at Santa Barbara. He was a crew chief as a Staff Sgt. for aircraft # 270 which was flown most of the time by Don Frost.  (Don Frost used "Corsair270" in his email address)

            Chick Flaig, Red Twomey, Frank Reynolds, Gilbert Jolly and Albert Brown have stayed in close touch with each other and have visited from time to time. Albert is now legally blind with macular degeneration.  He says "it’s a new challenge.".  He wrote an article, "What I Have Learned Since Going Blind" published in the September, 2005, issue of the American Legion magazine, and has received good press. Albert says it has helped others with similar or other health problems.

            At the last Marine Corps birthday party at the Marine Corps and Related Naval Personnel Friendship League in his section of New York, he was the oldest one there and as such received the first piece of birthday cake.

            Albert told the group he would agree to be the oldest only if guaranteed he could hold the position for at least 20 years.

John Cowley, > Jcowley@gruwoodshole.uscg.mil

            John is still volunteering full time at the Coast Guard Group Woods Hole, Massachusetts, directing and trying to control several hundred Coast Guard Auxiliarists in their Surface Operations. John is planning to attend the next reunion in New Hampshire.

Jim Perry, > Perry2656 @ aol.com

            Jim was in the squadron from October, 1965 to September 1966. He was attached to the squadron when they broke 1000 sorties for the month. (Editors note- this is when the squadron received the Presidential Unit Citation during this period). Jim was a friend of 2nd Lt James Pitts who the maintenance control officer who passed away in Dining in November 1966.  They both had served in VMF-251 and had made a Med cruise together and countless deployments.  Jim said that his tour in VMFA-115 was the best tour he had in the Marine Corps, only he didn't know it then.

 

A GREAT STORY TO BE TOLD

Louis Weller, who was in VMF-115 in China, wrote an article that was published in the Mag 24 Bugler, a newsletter of the squadrons that were attached to Mag 24 during WII. Louis and his wife were the hosts of the Dearborn reunion.  This article is reprinted as published in the Bugler.

Born in Fowler, MI on January 3, 1925, his mother and her five children moved to the farming community of Sebewaing, MI near their maternal grandparents. At the age of 18, Louis registered for the draft and worked several months for the Buick Motor Car Company in Flint, MI where Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines were made. On January 4, 1944 at the age of 19, Louis and a friend enlisted in the USMC.

            On January 22, 1944, they arrived at MCRD, San Diego and joined Platoon 75. Upon graduating from boot camp, Louis first went to Camp Miramar and on May 27, 1944 transferred to Camp Kearny Naval Auxiliary Air Station   where he was assigned to Marine Photo Squadron 154. Having several years experience with farm equipment, he was given the MOS of truck driver with the motor pool. At that time the squadron had about eight PB4Y-1 aircraft (B-24's). A flight crew had to be driven to North Island, (San Diego) to fly back a PB4Y-1 which has set down at North Island because of bad weather. The first airplane ride for Louis occurred when he was asked to fly back to Camp Kearney.

            In June 1944 the squadron received six Hellcat fight aircraft and in March 1945, the squadron was transferred to the USMC Auxiliary Air Facility in Kinston, NC, but in July 1945, Louis returned to Camp Kearney for processing to overseas duty.

            Louis boarded the USS Pitt in San Diego on August 19, 1945 and sailed for Zamboanga, Mindanoa, and Philippine Islands where he joined Marine Bombing Squadron 443.

            The base was just a clearing in the jungle where he remembers seeing spiders and green snakes. Bathing was in a stream nearby where they washed their clothes at the same time.

            On October 8, 1945, Louis was flown back to Zamboanga to join VMF-115, Mag 12. They were flying F4U Corsairs and were being readied to go to North China to repatriate the Japanese that had occupied China for about 8 years.

            On October 25, 1945, the forward echelon of 26 officers, 19 enlisted men and 22 aircraft arrived at West Field approximately 5 miles from Peiping, China and very near the Emperor's summer palace. The ground echelon boarded the USS Hydrus and the attack transport USS Sheridan on October 31, 1945 and after stops at Manila Bay, Okinawa and sailing through the Yellow Sea, they arrived off-shore at Taku, China in the Gulf of Chihli, North China.

            Because of the shallowness of the harbor and the changing tide water conditions, the ships had to be unloaded to Landing Craft Mediums (LCM) and haul their cargo's to Taku. Louis and several other truck drivers were taken by Higgins boats to Taku to help unload cargo.

            In Taku, Louis saw his first Japanese man. He still wore a Japanese soldier’s uniform and was possibly 30 to 40 years old, but of course, he had no weapon.  He was evidently stationed at Taku Landing to aid the American forces. Chinese children frequented the landing area and the soldiers would tell them to leave as it could be dangerous with all the trucks moving cargo. The children responded by turning their thumbs down and shouting: boo how, boo how" which meant in Chinese is "no good".

            A convoy was assembled to take trucks, cargo and equipment to West Field, Peiping on November 21, 1945, a distance of about 120 miles. Louis was to drive a weapon's carrier. Their first stop would be Tientsin, a distance of 30 miles from Taku. However, after about driving 10 miles, the engine stopped and would not restart. Bringing up the rear of the convoy was a Warrant Officer and a mechanic in a jeep. Not wanting to lose sight of the convoy, Louis was instructed to stay with his vehicle and the officer would return with the mechanic after they reached Tientsin.

            Where they had stopped was ground where nothing could grow and it appeared to have been an old burial site as there were several mounds and some had, over the years, had the dirt washed away which exposed several burial boxes. Finally, after 5 to 6 hours, the officer and mechanic returned. The mechanic found a loose ignition wire, reattached it, started the truck and Louis followed the jeep back to Taku Landing. Another convoy left the next morning, made it to Tientsin where, upon exiting the town, a military tank of the 1st Marine Division escorted them to the entrance of Peiping.  In late afternoon they entered the walled city of Peiping.

            They seemed to be about in the middle of Peiping when the weapon’s carrier once again quit running. Fortunately the officer and the mechanic in the jeep spotted them, stopped and the mechanic again fixed the problem. Leaving the mechanic with Louis, the officer stay with the convoy, but, without directions, they were lost in Peiping.  Seeing a crowd of Chinese in the street, they asked if anyone spoke English.  One man did and he gave explicit directions to West Field where they arrived at eight p.m.

            They were billeted and told where the mess hall was. They were hungry as they hadn't had a cooked or warm meal since Tuesday morning and this was Thursday evening.

            The meat they were served could not be identified. It could not be chewed and it resembled chitterlings or tripe. They left hungry still hungry and hoped that breakfast would be better.

            The NCOIC of the motor pool at West Field was Sgt George Thompson with whom Louis had served in Marine Photo Squadron 154. At that time there were no driving jobs so Louis went to work doing odd jobs around the garage such as repairing flat tires and replacing tires as necessary using tire irons and sledge hammers. A slip in the garage resulted in a sprained left wrist requiring a sling for about a week. When Louis returned to the motor pool, another man had the tire repair/ replacing job and he was back to driving a new 6 X 6. Louis went to the diesel shop of HQ squadron, Mag 12. They had bulldozers, small cranes on Caterpillars (cherry pickers) and Insley cranes. They also acquired an Allis-Chalmers bulldozer, an Adams road grader, a mobile Bay City crane and a 20 foot boat with an inboard motor.  It looked like it had never been in the water.

             Most of the men in the diesel shop had visited the Summer Palace and knew there was a small lake next to it.  One of the men had an idea to take the boat to the lake to see how it would perform. The Lt in charge of the shop fully approved. The boat was loaded on a flatbed truck and with the mobile Bay City crane; the trip was made to the lake.  From a bridge over a stream leaving the lake, the crane hoisted the boat into the lake. The boat preformed just fine and after a couple of hours they hoisted the boat back onto the flatbed truck and returned to West Field.

            The next day local Chinese had contacted the base commander complaining that the boat had disturbed their fishing nets. An order was therefore given that the boat could not leave the base again.

            On April 1st, 1946, VMF-115 was assigned to Mag-24 and the squadron moved from West Field to South Field (Nan Yuan), about six miles south of Peiping.

            On July 4, 1946, the interesting tour of duty in China came to an end for Louis and other Marines. They took the train back to Taku Landing and two days later they went by LCM to the USS General J.C. Breckenridge to return to the US. They arrived in San Diego on July 29, .1946, then to the separation center at Great Lakes Naval Center for discharge.  The monthly pay for Louis was $90.00 at his time of discharge.

            This story is one that Louis presents to students of the local schools on Student/ Veterans Day each year.          

 

VMFA-115 SQUADRON PATCHES AVAILABLE

                The latest catalog of Sgt. Grit, which is a catalog of only Marine Corps related items, has the 115 patch available as a "new" item. This patch is identical to the patch used in the late 60's in Vietnam. The present day patch in the F-18 era has changed.  To order a patch, you may contact them at 866-776-2607, or Sgt. GRIT Marine Specialties.  7100 SW 44th Street, Oklahoma City, 73179.   The patch is listed as #PG215 and cost is $3.49 plus shipping.  They have a complete catalogue of "Marine Specialties”, so I encourage everyone to ask for a catalog.  This company has donated some items for us to use at reunions for no charge.

 

EMAIL FROM THE CURRENT COMMANDING OFFICER OF VMFA-115 AT BEAUFORT.

                Randy A. Nash sent an email inquiring about the reunion. He has had Marines contact him for information.  He also forwarded some names to add to the roster. He states the squadron will be in Japan during this year’s reunion.  He would like to try to make the San Diego reunion next year in 2007. 

 

2007 REUNION AT SAN DIEGO

Due to our bylaws we are to have reunions in each section of the US, rotating between east coast, west coast and central US.   Due to the circumstances of getting reunions organized, this hasn't happened.   We have a "host" Marine and his family that are willing to help set up the reunion. Other Marines who live in the San Diego area have agreed to help out as needed.

 

INFORMATION IN OTHER PUBLICATIONS

For those of you who run across articles about VMFA-115 that is printed in your local newspaper, Yellow Jacket, or a magazine, would you please forward a copy to me so that we can print it in the newsletter?  Many Marines like to keep up on the news of the squadron and other Marine aviation activities.

 

 

ABOUT THE REUNION:

  We are still in the primary planning stages at this time.  As time progresses we will let you know about menu selection, tours we are planning, etc.  I have been told this reunion site is about one and half hours drive north of Boston.  This area is considered a very scenic area with several lakes.  We will be on Lake Winnipesaukee. The city of Laconia is located mid state, just north of the capital and is surrounded by 3 lakes, Opechee and Winnisquam. This reunion will be held during the Fall Foliage season.  Any questions, feel free to ask our host, Lisa Hazeltine at > budman8@metrocast.net. Lisa is the co-host with her father, Andy Moynihan, mechanic with 115 from 1943-45.  They have everything planned for a wonderful reunion in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.

 

Anyone who went to boot camp at San Diego and was in platoon 390, graduating December 1964, please contact me.  I have a copy of the platoon graduation book.

 

Thanks- hope to see everyone in Laconia in September.

 

 Lynn