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50 Years

50 Years

Postby Skeater » 27 Jul 2015, 19:41

July 3rd, at 23:30 I stepped of a C-130 at Danang airfield. Unbelievable humidity, smell and noise. Suddenly I had some doubts as to "was I really ready to go to war?". 20 minutes after arrival as we unloaded the aircraft, some "outgoing 155s fired; of course we all hit the pavement like any FNG would do, only to be laughed at by the more worldly guys who knew how to tell "theirs" and "ours" apart. Not any sleep that night as our tents were thrown together with all the cots still not put together (I know, at least we had tents and cots). 0500 we were back at the flight line scoping out our location at the hanger we shared with two other squadrons of F-4B Phantom fighter/attack bombers (VMFA-513 & VMFA-531). Our squadron has "Trans-Pac'd" from El Toro in March to Atsugi N.A.S., Japan; The 1st MAW wouldn't join us in Nam for couple months. Funny thing; we had an abundance of beer before the Wing came down but after they came to "make things better", we were cut to only 2 per day. I was part of the advance detail of VMFA-542. Our first 5 birds came in from Philippines day or two later and we immediately got them loaded and off on their first mission later that same day. I would spend the next 7 1/2 months there. In Flight Line, I worked 14 hours on and 10 off (but also pulled perimeter guard/patrol duty) with only one day off during the whole tour; and I found I got as used to it as anyone does in that environment. I still found time to write some letters home, drink a beer now and then *maybe more than that :) ), play cars or grab ass with my buddies. I never have forgotten them though I'm sure they aren't 18 to 22 years olds anymore either. I was a plane captain (aka crew chief) on the Phantom. Its a dog of a plane now, most F-4s are either in bone yards or used for target drones, but I loved that bird. Only you fellow "airwingers" who worked on aircraft can understand how you can "love" a piece of machinery, but I still miss "TigerLead", aircraft number 1 in our squadron, and the C.O.s plane (Lt Col R A Savage).
Welcome home to any of my fellow 1st Marine Air Wing mates, both fixed and rotary. Funny thing; as we were driven to our tents that first night, Hanoi Hannah welcomed us to Vietnam and mentioned our C.O. and 1st Sgt by name. Kind of made us wonder about the so-called tight security in Japan. The station did play good music though :)

50 years; seems like yesterday,


What you are is God's gift to you; What you become is your gift to God
Skeater (Then PFC Richard Skeate) USMC 64-68 (VMFA-542 & 323) SEMPER FI
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Re: 50 Years

Postby Jerry Nicholson » 27 Jul 2015, 20:55

Hey Skeater, i just saw your post. Boy does time fly. I love to hear these old stories and reminisce about the old days. I just looked you up in the 65-66 cruise book. Yep, there you are at the bottom of the page.
http://www.vmfa542.com/VMFA542FarEastTour1965-1966/target35.html

We are having a reunion in San Diego tomorrow through Sunday (July 28-Aug 2). I will mention your post to everyone. There will be one marine there from your time; Eusebio Limas 65-66 Hydraulics.
Jerry Nicholson
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You can join the Army, you can join the Navy and you can join the Air Force but, you BECOME a Marine!
Having earned the title of Marine it becomes a integral part of who and what we will become later in life.
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