VMF-VMA-311 Reunion Association
CHATTANOOGA REUNION 2018
APOLOGIES ARE IN ORDER FOR THE LACK OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE NEWSLETTER EDITOR AND THE ALUMNI. THAT BEING SAID WE HAVE NOT BEEN SETTING AROUND ON OUR THUMBS. WE ARE HEADING TO CHATTANOOGA IN SEPTEMBER TO CHECK OUT A FEW HOTELS AND SEE WHO CAN GIVE US THE MOST BANG FOR OUR HARD EARNED DOLLARS. A NUMBER OF US WILL BE AT THE CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO HOTEL (REUNION 2008) ON SEPTEMBER 10-12. WE HAVE SET UP INSPECTIONS WITH THE HOTEL REPS FROM THE CHOO, READ HOUSE AND DOWNTOWN MARRIOTT AND ALSO WILL BE MEETING WITH A CVB REP.
OTHER 311 ALUMNI HAVE STATED THAT THEY WILL BE MEETING US THERE AND WE EXTEND AN INVITATION TO ANY OF YOU 311 GUYS WHO ARE CLOSE TO DROP IN AND SAY HELLO. SORT OF A MINI REUNION. OUTSIDE OF THAT WE WILL BE BUMMING AROUND AND CHECKING OUT SOME THINGS THAT WE COULD PASS ON TO THE ALUMNI WHO WILL BE ATTENDING THAT WOULD BE OF INTEREST.
GOING BACK TO RUNION 2008, A GROUP OF US MADE THE RIVERBOAT TOUR BEFORE THE REUNION STARTED. THE AREA IS STEEPED IN CIVIL WAR HISTORY. AS A REUNION GROUP WE TOPURED THE BATTLEFIELDS AND LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN. THERE IS SO MANY THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN CHATTANOOGA THAT IT’S HARD TO CRAM IT ALL IN IN FOUR DAYS. MANY OF US GO FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. WE PLANNERS USUALLY GO IN TWO DAYS PRIOR AND STAY ONE DAY AFTER. WE’L TRY TO GET INTO SOME DIFFERENT VENUES FOR THE TOUR LINE UP.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WILL BE ATTENDING FOR THE FIRST TIME YOU ARE REALLY GOING TO ENJOY CHATTANOOGA. THE FREE ELECTRIC SHUTTLE IS THE REAL KICKER. IT’S FREE AND IT TRAVELS ALL OVER THE CITY BETWEEN 0630 AND 2300. STOPS EVERY FIVE MINUTES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIL ANY AMOUNT OF TIME FOR A RIDE. FOR MY PART, ITS ONE OF THE CLEANEST AND FRIENDLIEST CITIES THAT I HAVE VISITED.
AS IN PREVIOUS REUNIONS WE’LL GET THE CONTRACTS SIGNED FROM THE HOTEL AND TOUR COMPANY BY THE END OF THE YEAR AND BE ABLE TO MAIL OUT THE REUNION PACKETS BY AT LEAST MARCH 2018. IF YOU ATTENDED REUNION 2016 IN PENSACOLA YOU WILL BE MAILED A PACKET. IF YOU DIDN’T YOU NEED ONLY TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ONE OF THE OFFICERS LISTED ON THE NEWSLETTER HEADER AND WE’LL SEE THAT YOU GET ONE.
WE HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS TO HAVE GOOD PLANNERS AND ASSISTANCE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE REUNIONS ARE A PLEASURABLE EXPIERIANCE NOT ONLY FOR THE ALUMNI BUT ALSO THE WIDOWS AND FAMILIES. WE ARE HONORED FOR THEIR ATTENDANCE. SEE Y’ALL IN CHATTANOOGA!!
GENE WHETSTONE IN 2014 VIRGINIA. 1952-53, K-3 OPS
CARL CERESERO IN 2016 ILLINOIS. 1950-52, K-3, PLANE CAPTAIN
RON SHACKLEFORD IN 2017. CHU LAI, ELECTRICAL SHOP
JAMES M. ROBERTS IN 2017. CHU LAI, AVIONICS
JOHN (JAKE) TORRENCE IN 2017. N. CAROLINA. MARSHALL ISLANDS, CORSAIR PILOT
WILLIAM (MIKE) SPRINKLE IN 2017. FLORIDA. 1969-70, CHU LAI, ORDNANCE
NAMES WILL BE READ AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE IN CHATTANOOGA 2018. ANYONE KNOWS OF A 311 ALUMNI WHO PASSED THAT WE HAVE NOT INCLUDED IN OUR MEMORIAL SERVICES LET US KNOW AND WE WILL BE GLAD TO READ HIS/HER NAME.
LOST IN THE MAIL
ANDY ANDERSON ALEDO, ILLINOIS
IRVING JOHNSON GIG HARBOR, WASHINGTON
JOHN MCDERMOTT 5716 CHARLIE CHASE LANE, BETTENDORF, IA 52722
407-446-1925, email@example.com, 1994-95
WEST PAC, YUMA, IWAKUNI, MAINTENANCE OFFICER
DAVID GONZALEZ 860 BRODIE LANE APT 238, AUSTIN, TX
Dm1988@msn.com, 2010-2011, PARA RIGGER
JOHN JENNINGS 220 NORTH ZAPATA HIGHWAY 11, SUITE 1119A, LAREDO, TX 78043
John.firstname.lastname@example.org, 1966-67 CHU LAI, XO, OPS OFFICER
ISH RODRIQUEZ 6027 N. 17TH ST., PHOENIX, AZ 85016-1807
JERRY GOLDBERG 6531 ROYAL MANOR CIRCLE, DEL RAY BEACH, FL 33484-2411
BILL MIRACLE BEAVER MEADOWS, 5130 TUSCARAWAS RD., BEAVER, PA 15009
STEVE KENT 20 BROOKSIDE LANE, GETTEYSBURG, PA 17325
R.J. SMITH 28225 BOXWOOD DRIVE, ZEPHYRHILLS, FL 33542-6613
EMAIL CHANGES OR CORRECTIONS
GEORGE PHANDER email@example.com
JIM ECHEMENT firstname.lastname@example.org
STEVE KENT email@example.com
FROM LAST NEWSLETTER FAILED EMAILS POST
WALLACE BUCKINGHAM, BRUCE HARTON, MATT MCFARLAND, IRVING JOHNSON, ART REGAN, BOB SIMMONS, MIKE SANTACROCE, SPEED SHEA, RICH ROSENBERG, AND JACK SMITH. IF YOU STILL ARE ON EMAIL GET IN TOUCH WITH US TO CORRECT. OTHERWISE WILL MAIL HARDCOPY NEWSLETTER.
LETTERS FROM THE TROOPS
STEVE KENT, GETTYSBURG, PA: “READING REUNION NEWSLETTER LAST NIGHT AND SAW SOME FAMILIAR NAMES, LT. SCAR ETC. I HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE 8 BY 10 GROUP OICTURE TAKEN IN THE REVETMENT ON THE FLIGHT LINE NOVEMBER 1970 WITH A FEMALE (HEARD SHE WAS A VISITING NURSE FROM THAILAND!) IT WAS TAKEN BY SQUADRON PHOTOGRAPHER AND SOMEHOW I MANAGED TO GET A COPY. YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE SEEN THIS PHOTO. THE CO LTC HAGAN, XO MAJOR THOMPSON, LT. WELLS, LT. SANFORD, AND LT. SCAR PILOTS IN THE PHOTO WITH A BUNCH OF US SNUFFIES THEY ROUNDED UP FOR A PHOTO OP. YEARS AGO I SENT COPIES OF ALL THE 311 ARTICLES I KEPT THAT WERE IN THE STARS AND STRIPES/ SEA TIGER NEWSPAPERS. ALSO, SAW WRITE UP ON LT. PLASSMEYER AND HAVE A RELATED STORY ON THE DAY HE WAS LOST. I WAS THE ORDNANCE CREW THAT LOADED HIS AIRCRAFT BEFORE HE WENT OUT. TO THIS DAY, WHAT HAPPENED TO ME STILL HAUNTS ME. LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT MY STORY ABOUT ON THAT 11 SEPTEMBER 1970 WHEN WE LOST LT. PLASSMEYER.”
(EDITORS NOTE: ANYONE WHO HAS ANY STORIES TO RELATE PLEASE SEND THE TO ME AND WE WILL PUT THEM IN THE NEWSLETTER. EVERYONE HAS STORYS TO TELL WHETHER TRUE OR STRETCHED A LITTLE. I GOT ONE …JUST A SHORT ONE…THEY USED TO SEND NAVY GUYS OFF THE SHIP TAD TO WORK WITH US AND I HEARD TELL, BUT NOT CONFIRM, THAT THESE NAVY GUYS WERE PUT ON THE OLD OUTHOUSE BURNING DETAIL WHICH THEY DID…DOUSED THE OUTHOUSE IN DIESEL AND BURNED IT DOWN…CANS STILL INSIDE. TRUE? MAYBE. BUT IT’S A GOOD STORY. IF I COULD GET MY OLD BUDDY PHANDER TO RELATE HIS TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS CONCERNING TOP SMITH AND THE PATTERSON PACKAGE CAPER…NOW THAT’S A GOOD STORY!)
(EDITOR’S NOTE #2: IS THERE ANY PICTURE OR CIRCUMSTANCE THAT BOB SCAR WASN’T INVOLVED IN?)
SCOTT STRAWSER, “SORRY TO BOTHER YOU AS YOU WERE MY LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO GET CLOSURE ON THIS ISSUE. IT IS AMAZING THAT I CAN GET MORE INFORMATION ON MY GREAT, GREAT, GRANDFATHER WHO FOUGHT IN THE CIVIL WAR AND CAN’T GET A DAMN THING ON DON IN VIETNAM AND YET THEY ALL WANT ACKNOWLEDGED FOR WHAT THEY DID. GOSH, HOW DO WE SHOW OUR APPRICIATION IF THE GOVERNMENT WON’T GIVE DETAILS OF THEIR BLACK OPS DURING THE WAR!! MORE IS STILL BEING HELD BACK FROM THE CLOAK OF “PLAUSABLE DENIABILITY”. I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT EVERYONE IS OUT AS POW’S BUT, I DON’T THINK SO!
WELL OK THEN, AND YES I CAN TAKE A GUESS AS TO WHAT HE EARNED AS MEDALS AND FILL A CASE WITH A FOLDED FLAG. ALL THE FAMILY WANTED TO KNOW WAS HIS SERVICE RECORDS. THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT TOOK PLACE FOR AN AIRMAN TO MAKE IT TO ARLINGTON CEMETERY BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE GETS IN THERE WHEN THEY DIE!
THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T RECOGNIZE DON AND I CAN’T GET ANY INTEL ON HIM. WOW!! IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD TO GET AND YET I’VE BEEN STONE WALLED AND DISCONNECTED MORE TIMES THAN YOU KNOW. GARY POWERS GETS MORE NEWS THAN DON AND HE WAS ACCEPTED TO NASA TO BE IN THE SPACE PROGRAM. MY OWN AUNT CAN’T GET ANY INFORMATION AND SHE IS HIS SPOUSE! THIS ISN’T AREA 51 FOR GOD’S SAKE! EVERYONE DESERVES TO KNOW WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT DID WITH OUR BOYS AND YET STILL TO THIS DAY WE HAVE STONE WALLS THAT ARE NOT TO BE BROKEN. LET’S INVESTIGATE GENERAL WESTMORLAND AND HIS ATROCITIES HE COMMITTED AND ALL THE OTHERS WHILE THEY LIVE A LIFE OF LUXURY IN HAWAII. THAT I KNOW FOR SURE!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: SCOTT’S UNCLE DON ALD B. MESSERSCHMIDT EVIDENTLY FLEW WITH VMA-311 IN VIETNAM AND WAS KILLED IN A TRAINING FLIGHT IN 1969 IN QUANTICO. ALSO KILLED WAS HIS CO-PILOT MAJOR ANTHONY YATSKE. I HAVE NEVER RUN ACROSS THIS NAME IN OUR GROUP AND I’VE LOOKED THROUGH THE 311 HISTORY BOOK AND CAN FIND NO RECALL OF DON MESSERSCHMIDT. ANY PILOTS OR GROUND CREW REMEMBER HIS NAME OR REMEMBER SEEING HIM IN YOUR TRAVELS IN THE SIXTIES GET IN TOUCH WITH SCOTT AND RELATE WHAT YOU KNOW. HIS EMAIL IS firstname.lastname@example.org SOMETIMES INFO FROM ANY CONFLICT GETS BLACKED OUT FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. THAT IS WHAT IT IS. HOW MANY SORTIES DID WE FLY INTO CAMBODIA AND LAOS THAT WERE NOT RECORDED AND LOST CREWS THAT WILL NEVER BE RECOVERED BECAUSE TECHNICALLY WE WERE NOT IN THERE. CLANDESTINE AND SECRET OPS HAPPEN IN EVERY WAR.”)
FROM THE COMMAND CHRONOLOGY OCTOBER 1966: DURING OCTOBER THE SQUADRON FLEW 556 SORTIES FOR 695.5 HOURS. THE BREAKDOWN OF SORTIES IS THUS: DAS/RED-BLUE BLAZERS 51; TALLY-HO/SP 53; CAS 67; TPQ 221; HE/LZP/LZC 100; AND OTHER (FAM, FERRY, ETC) 64. TWENTY TWO NON-SQADRON PILOTS FLEW 71 SORTIES AMOUNTING TO 96.9 HOURS WHICH REPRESENTED 12.7% OF TOTAL SORTIES FLOWN.
, JOHN JENNINGS, LAREDO TX: “I WORK FOR FEMA ATTACHED TO DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITYAND HAVE BEEN WITH THEM FOR 14 YEARS. I TRAVELED ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND AT THE PRESENT TIME I AM AT REGION VI HEADQUARTERS IN DENTON, TEXAS. I HAVE BEEN DEPLOYED HERE FOR OVER 8 MONTHS AND HAVE A RELEASE DATE OF APRIL WHEN I WILL RETURN HOME FOR SOME TIME OFF. I LIVE IN CUERNAVACA, MEXICO WHERE I HAVE RESIDED FOR 18 YEARS. AFTER RETIRING FROM THE MARINE CORPS IN 1973 WITH THE RANK OF LTC , I ACCEPTED A MANAGEMENT POSITION WITH A FORTUNE 500 COMPANY AT THEIR WORLD HEADQUARTERS IN FLORIDA AND WAS WITH THEM FOR 15 YEARS WHEN I ELECTED TO PENSION OUT AND RETIRED IN 1989. SHORTLY AFTER MY RETIREMENT, I INTERVIEWED FOR THE CEO POSITION WITH AN INTERNATIONAL COMPANY AND WAS HIRED AS CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OR A COMPANY WITH ANNUAL SALES OF OVER 12 MILLION DOLLARS. I REMAINED WITH THE COMPANY FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS WHEN I WAS FORCED TO RESIGN MY POSITION BECAUSE MY HOME WAS COMLETELY DESTROYED BY HURRICANE ANDREW IN 1992. AFTER REBUILDING MY WIFE AND I TOOK A THREE MONTH TRIP TO ASIA. I THEN ACCEPTED A POSITION WITH STATE FARM SETTLING CLAIMS AND RESIGNED WHEN MY WIFE BECAME ILL. SHE PASSED IN 2002 WHILE LIVING IN MEXICO. AFTER WHICH I ACCEPTED THIS POSITION WITH DHS.
YOU MAY REMEMBER MAJOR DICK SPRIER. HE AND HIS WIFE LIVE IN COLORADO AND MAJOR CARL BATT HAS PASSED AWAY TOO. THOSE ARE THE ONLY TWO OFFICERS THAT I HAPPEN TO KNOW ABOUT AFTER THEY LEFT THE CORPS. I GUESS THAT COVERS ABOUT 45 YEARS.”
LTC CRAIG SCHAFFNER COMMANDING VMA-311
LTC CRAIG. E. SCHAFFNER GRADUATED FROM CENTRAL MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY IN 1996 WITH A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN AVIATION TECHNOLOGY AND POWER TECHNOLOGY. IN 1998 HE WAS COMISSIONED A SECOND LIEUTENANT IN THE U.S. MARINE CORPS. AFTER COMPLETION OF BASIC SCHOOL HE PROCEEDED TO NAS PENSACOLA AS A STUDENT IN THE NAVAL AIR TRAINING COMMAND WITH FOLLOW-ON FLIGHT TRAINING AT NAS WHITING FIELD AND NAS MERIDIAN. HE WAS DESIGNATED A NAVAL AVIATOR IN FEBRUARY 2001.
AFTER EARNING HIS WINGS, LTC SCHAFFNER WAS TRANSFERRED TO VMAT-203 AS A STUDENT IN THE AV-8B FLEET REPLACEMENT SQADRON. AT THE CONCLUSION OF AV-8B HARRIER TRAINING IN 2001, HE WAS ASSIGNED TO VMA-311.
LTC SCHAFFNER HELD A VARIETY OF BILLETS WITHIN THE VMA-311 OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT. IN 2003 HE DEPLOYED AS A MEMBER OF THE 15TH MEU AND PARTICIPATED IN OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH AND OPERATION IRAQUI FREEDOM. UPON HIS RETURN FROM DEPLOYMENT, LTC SCHAFFNER ATTENDED WEAPONS AND TACTIICS INSTRUCTORS COURSE AND SERVED AS SQUADRON WTI. IN 2005, LTC SCHAFFNER DEPLOYED AGAIN AS THE OPERATIONS OFFICER FOR DET A THE 31ST MEU.
IN 2006 LTC SCHAFFNER REPORTED TO 3BN 7TH MARINES WHERE HE SERVED AS THE BATTALION ASSISTANT OPERATIONS OFFICER, BATTALION AIR OFFICER AND THE 7TH MARINES RBE AIR OFFICER. IN 2007, LTC SCHAFFNER DEPLOYED TO RAMADI, IRAQ IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
HIS PERSONAL DECORATIONS INCLUDE THE AIR MEDAL WITH 4 STRIKE FLIGHT AWARDS, NAVY COMMENDATION WITH FOUR GOLD STARS, AND NAVY ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL, SELECTED MARINE CORPS RESERVE MEDAL AND NUMEROUS UNIT AWARDS.
REPRINTED FROM THE MAG-12 CHU LAI CHATTER 10 FEBRUARY 1967
AND THE BLACKSHEEP TOO!!
IN YESTERDAY’S CHATTER A FRONT PAGE ISO RELEASE PRESENTED AN OPERATIONS SUMMARY FOR THE PERIOD 29 JAN-1 FEB 1967. THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF THE ARTICLE INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE: “THE CHU LAI BASED WARPLANES FROM VMAS 121, 211 AND 311 RAINED MORE THAN 475 TONS OF EXPLOSIVES ON A VARIETY OF TARGETS DURING THE FOUR DAY PERIOD.”
CONPICUOUS IN ITS ABSENCE WAS MENTION OF THE GALLANT VMA-214 BLACKSHEEP, AND IF THE AUTHOR OF THE PIECECOULD MAKE ANY POSSIBLE JUSTIFICATION FOR SINS OF OMISSION, UNWILLING IN INTENT, HE WOULD SAY THAT THE FAME OF THE 214 IS ALREADY WELL KNOWN AND IS BARELY NEEDS THE PREMIUMS OF PUBLICITY OFFERED ON THESE PAGES.
FOR IN FACT A BLACKSHEEP TICO-TYPE LEFT WRITTEN TESTIMONY ON THE CHATTER OFFICE HATCH THAT HIS SQUADRON WAS “VERY MUCH A PART OF THE CHU LAI BASED WARPLANES”, AND THEN PROCEDDED TO RECOUNT THE BLACKSHEEP STORY DURING THOSE FOUR DAYS…”OF THE 419 SORTIES FLOWN, THE BLACKSHEEP FLEW 112 OR 25% OF THEM…28% OF THE TOTAL HOURS FLOWN OR 158 WERE BLACKSHEEP FLOWN.
“WE DESTROYED 64 OF THE 147 STRUCTURES DESTROYED OR 43.5% AND ALSO 64 OF THOSE 103 STRUCTURES DAMAGED FOR 62.1% OF THE TOTAL.
25% OF THE BUNKERS DESTROYED, 100% OF THE SAMPANS DESTROYED/DAMAGED (OUT OF 2 DESTROYED AND FOUR DAMAGED FOR THAT PERIOD) AND 50% OF THE AUTOMATIC WEAPONS POSITIONS DESTROYED WERE COMPLIMENTS OF YOUR FRIENDLY BLACKSHEEP.
IN ADDITION, WE ALSO ACCOUNTED FOR 3 KIA CONFIRMED AND 49 KBAS PROBABLE.
THESE ARE PRETTY IMPRESSIVE FIGURES BUT COUPLED WITH THIS IS THE FACT THAT WE HAD AN AVERAGE OF ONLT 14 PLANES AVAILABLE TO WORK WITH OF WHICH OUR HARD WORKING MAINTENANCE CREWS KEPT 89% OF THEM UP GOES TO PROVE THAT VMA-214 BLACKSHEEP IS INDEED PART OF MAG-12.
WELCOME BACK TO MAG-12 DEAR BLACKSHEEP AFTER A DAY OFF THE FRONT PAGE OF THE CHATTER….AND ALSO CONGRATULATIONS TOO!!
FOR YOU SCOOTER PILOTS OUT THERE
I DON’T HAVE TWO ENGINES THAT GO BOOM BOOM,
AND MY COCKPIT DOESN’T PROVIDE MUCH ROOM.
MY WING DOESN’T FLAP UP OR DOWN
AND MY PILOTS DON’T RAISE MUCH HELL IN TOWN.
TEN THOUSAND FEET OF CONCRETE ISN’T REQUIRED FOR MY NEEDS
JUST LAY MY BEER CAN STRIP SOMEWHERE IN THE WEEDS.
FROM IT I HAUL BOMBS AND GUNS AND ROCKETS
FOR THE LEAST AMOUNT OF MONEY FROM THE TAX PAYER’S POCKETS.
THOUGH I’M NOT ALL-WEATHER TYPE YOU SEE
AS YET NOONE HAS DECIDED WHAT MY MINIMUMS SHOULD BE.
SO NO MATTER IF IT’S DARK OR LIGHT
I LAUNCH AND TAKE ON ANY TARGET IN SIGHT.
ALTHOUGH I DON’T CARRY TOO MANY BOMBS ON A FLIGHT
NOT MANY ARE REQUIRED WHEN YOUR AIM IS RIGHT.
SO WHETHER ITS NORTH, SOUTH OR OUT OF SIGHT
YOU NAME THE TARGET, WE ARE THE CONTROLLERS DELIGHT.
CAUSE WHEN THE MISSION IS OVER AND THE ORDINANCE IS SPENT
MY BDA IS ALWAYS THE SAME”TARGET DESTROYED, 100 PER CENT!”
THINGS IN GENERAL…
THOSE OF YOU WHO WERE IN PENSACOLA LAST YEAR WERE TREATED TO A BOOK SIGNING BY JEANETTE VAUGHN WHO WROTE A BOOK CALLED “ETERNALLY AT WAR” BIO OF CAPT. ROBERT LATHROP WHO FLEW WITH 311 IN VIETNAM. THOSE ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR SIGNED COPIES AT WWW.AGEVIEWPRESS.COM OR IF YOU GOOGLE HER NAME OR GO TO AMAZON PRESS YOU CAN TRACK IT DOWN.
THOSE OF YOU WHO ALSO BELONG TO THE VMA-211 GROUP THERE WILL BE NO REUNION THIS YEAR. I GUESS THEY COULDN’T FING ANYONE TO HOST IT. THEY BEEN HAVING ONE EVERY YEAR AND ATTENDANCE ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE. YEARS AGO WE TALKED ABOUT MERGING 311 AND 211 BUT THE GROUP NIXED IT. AS OUR FRIEND RALPHIE READ KEEPS REMINDING ME “ WE’RE GETTING LONG IN THE TOOTH”..
THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN AT DANANG IN 1970-71 I BELIEVE. NOW THAT IS A TOMCAT!!
I WAS TOLD SOME TIME AGO BY ONE OF THE CVB REPS THAT REUNIONS WERE ON THE DECLINE. UNDERSTANDABLE BEING THAT ALL THE WWII AND KOREAN ERA GROUPS ARE IN THEIR LATE 80S AND 90S. LET’S FACE IT GUYS WE ARE IN OUR 70S BUT AS LONG AS THE HEALTH HOLDS OUT WE’LL KEEP THIS ONE AFLOAT. WE’VE BEEN BLESSED BY SOME GREAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELPED OUT MAKING THE REUNIONS A SUCCESS. STILL, WOULD BE NICE IF A YOUNG TOMCAT SAID “SURE, I’LL TAKE THE GROUP”. ENOUGH OF THAT.
THERE IS AN OPEN INVITATION TO ALL FORMER 311 ALUMNI TO ATTEND THE BIG MARINE CORP BALL IN YUMA THIS NOVEMBER. GET AHOLD OF THE SQUADRON AND SET UP SOME RESERVATIONS OR WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO. OUR OWN, CECIL AND CHRIS CHEEKA ARE PLANNING TO ATTEND AND I HAVE GIVEN THEM THE GO AHEAD TO ACT AS OUR OFFICIAL AMBASSADORS. MAYBE THEY WILL LET HIM GIVE A SPEECH AND HE CAN PLUG THE REUNION GROUP.
OH…FORGOT ABOUT BASEBALL! MY TRIBE IS HANGING ON IN THE AL CENTRAL WINNING UGLY . PHANDER’S PHILLIES HAVE LOST SO MANY GAME THEY ARE ALREADY LOSING GAMES FOR NEXT YEAR. CHEEKA’S MARINERS ARE PUSHING FOR A WILD CARD AND RALPHIE’S BSOX ARE FIGHTING WITH THE YANKS FOR FIRST IN THE EAST AND THAT DOES IT FOR THIS DAY IN BASEBALL.
ON BEHALF OF ALL THE OFFICERS IN THE GROUP STAY WELL AND KEEP THE FAITH.
FOR THE ALUMNI ASSN.
TOMCAT AIR…ON TIME…ON TARGET!
DECEMBER 2016 EDITION
FROM PENSACOLA 2016…..
The Reunion in Pensacola went well and was attended by 56 TOMCATS, wives and guests. The Hilton Gardens Inn was a gracious host and did an outstanding job in handling our daily needs and covering the banquet on Saturday night.
Everyone showed up by Wednesday and we all prepared for our trip to the Naval Air Museum on Thursday morning. At the museum we were escorted by none other than a former TOMCAT pilot Col. Dick Upchurch who was an A-4 driver from 1969. How’s that for a guide? Terry Tiernan remembered him and recalled Dick’s name being stenciled below the cockpit on the Skyhawk. A small reunion in of itself. Of course, the Naval Air Museum is a must when visiting Pensacola.
Friday we toured the city of Pensacola and stopped off at Veteran’s Park to conduct our memorial service at the Marine Corps Aviation Bell Tower. Tom McKean, who owns and operates Beach Bum trolleys, worked overtime in lining us up a Marine Honor Guard and bugler from the NAS. Everything went really well with Cecil Cheeka doing the service. We honored those of our VMF/VMA-311 family who have passed since last reunion. We finished off Friday with a stop at McGuire’s Irish Pub which is also a must see when visiting Pensacola. They indicate that there is a a million signed one dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and walls. Quite a site. If you go to McGuire’s make sure to take an appetite.
Our auction went well on Friday night. As always, Jim Davis and Ralphie Reed, our auctioneers, did a performance worthy of an Oscar. We raised enough money to keep the group afloat and continue to support the VMA-311 Family Support Group out in Yuma. Did I mention that our auctioneers can sell anything? Well, they can!!
Saturday was our business meeting in the hospitality room. With the exception of our webmaster, Fred Townsley, the officers remained the same. Another 311 alumni, Dave Gonzalez (2000) has indicated that he would be willing to take over management of the web site so we will be making that change in the coming year.
Some of our group signed on for the dolphin tour on Saturday afternoon but got into some rainy weather although I guess some of them got out on the bay. Only the second day we have been rained on in nine reunions.
Saturday evening was our banquet. We deviated from our normal sit down dinner to try a buffet style dinner. Everyone seemed to think that the buffet went over really well. Guests were satisfied with the selections and the fact that they could try a little of everything with there being more than enough food to satisfy the big eaters. The buffet might be a keeper. Not only that, the buffet ran less money per person.
Between the tour on Friday and the auction Friday night we loaned out our hospitality room to an author, Jeanette Vaughn, who was promoting her new book “ETERNALLY AT WAR” which highlights the life, service and PTSD problems of Capt. Robert G. Lathrop (1968-69). The book signing was supposed to draw media attention and other 311 pilots for which she really decorated our hospitality room and put out some food and drink. Bob Scar, Jerry Holleran and Bill Leese opened the ceremonies by presenting the colors and reading the introductions. I felt bad for her because I’m sure that our group was the only ones in attendance. I think pretty much everyone did end up buying the book and also some others that she had authored including another book of poetry by Capt. Lathrop entitled “The Far Side of Darkness”. Jeanette graciously donated a number of books to the auction and left all the décor up for our banquet. She was also our impromptu guest speaker on Saturday night. Her books may be purchased through Amazon or contact www.ageviewpress.com A number of alumni from our group are mentioned in her book.
Side note from the banquet: Greg Cain (1970-71) Para Rigger/ Seat Shop somehow was reassigned when in Vietnam to be a Combat Photographer. Not serving in a combat capacity he did however take a multitude of pictures. One of those pictures was of Capt. Bob Scar shaking hands with the C.O commemorating him flying the squadron’s 45,000 combat sortie. This was Greg’s first reunion so what are the odds of him carrying that photo to the reunion? So Greg finds a place that will do a quickie silk screen to which he makes a T-shirt with the photo on back. He presented it with the adage “I was there, I did it, I have a t-shirt to prove it”. That was great! Greg also took a couple hundred pictures at the reunion and I think Fred may have put them on the web site. But if you contact Greg at email@example.com I’m sure he’ll send you the link. I have it also and I can send it to you.
Side note to “Eternally at War”: A number of 311 Marines were interviewed and interwoven into the book. My personal contribution is on the bottom of the first page which I endorse the book. In reality I did not read anything except my own input which shows up in chapter 13. To set my story into light. I don’t remember ever sitting down with an officer and having a drink, seeing any USO or USO girls, slot machines or dominoes on the table. My thoughts about the death of Capt. Porterfield are essentially true to text. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about that launch. The rest, well, I guess in book writing there must be allowed a certain amount of literary license afforded the author. One other point . Supposedly Capt. Lathrop mentions that that was a “useless war” to which I agreed. I would have never agreed with that. Still don’t agree with that. All that aside, the book is a good read. In my opinion, a tragic story.
…..TO CHATTANOOGA, TN 2018!
At the business meeting the attendees choose and vote for the site of the next reunion. Numerous cities were nominated and we voted to return to the great city of Chattanooga. Boston, by a couple votes, ran a close second. We held reunion 2008 in Chattanooga at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel and they were very gracious hosts and everyone had a great time. The city promotes cleanliness, a free trolley that takes you anywhere in town, a beautiful aquarium, numerous night spots and museums, civil war tours, Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, Manassas is close by. There are many things to do and see including an authentic English Tea House where you can eat cucumber sandwiches along with Tea and Crumpets. There is also a great steak house next to the hotel.
Next year we’ll head on down to Chattanooga and check out a few hotels to see who can give us the most bang for our buck. Usually we look at three and decide after we’ve done the site inspections. I have already notified the CVB and the Choo Choo and warned them that the TOMCAT invasion is on its way in 2018.
We wrapped up reunion 2016 on a good note and extend our thanks to all who attended and helped make it a success. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2018. Join us if you can. You’ll have a great time.
These donations were made prior to or right after the reunion. Ed Stepnowski (66) Naples, FL: Morris and Millie Liebhaber (1943) Bronx, NY: Tom Griffiths (64-66) Del Mar, CA: Ray Eckseth (69-70) Hampton, SC: Jerry Bradley (64-66) St. Peters, MO: and Ken Urban E. Durham, NY. Thanks Marines!
LOST IN THE MAILS…
DON ECKHARDT LKA Ocala, FL
ERNEST GILBERT LKA Brunswick, GA
DAVE ROSOWSKI LKA Yulee, FL
BILL SMOREY LKA Pittsburgh, PA
ALBERT ALBERTELLY VMA-311, Chu Lai, Mechanic. In Florida 2002.
DARREL BJORKLUND General, 2016 in Pensacola.
JOHN GLENN VMF-311, Pilot, Astronaut, US Senator, Korea. In Ohio 2016
RYAN LeJEUNE VMA-311, Ordnance, 2016
GEORGE ZABOROWSKI VMF-311, Roi-Namur, 1943, Transportation . In Ohio 2016
ADDRESS, PHONE AND EMAIL CHANGES…
ANDY ANDERSON 405 SE 13th Ave., Apt 172, Aledo, IL 61231-2014
JERRY HOLLERAN 15738 12th Road, Whitestone, NY 11357
WADE KELLY 3896 Wakefield Hall Square SE, Smyrna, GA 30080
BOB SIMMONS 121 e. Paseo Chuparosas, Green Valley, AZ 85614
WALTER SCOTT 4408 Colby Ave, Everett, WA 98203
JIM KOTMEL 216-407-7947 (C)
TERRY LOVELESS 319-389-1444 (C)
DAVE PARKER 801-725-6134 (C)
TERRY TIERNAN 941-323-6200
AIME YOCCA 321-203-2392
TOM FRENCH 361-729-1177
CRAIG CARMICHAEL 740-369-3505
RICH ROSENBURG RichardRosenburg@fibbra.com.br
DAVID GONZALEZ 860 Brodie Lane apt 238, Austin, TX 78745 2010-11, Para Rigger. Dm1988@msn.com
GREG CAIN 134 Countryside Lane, Bessemer, Al 35022 205-937-0820, firstname.lastname@example.org 1970-71, Da Nang, Seat Shop
BRUCE SCHWANDA 205 Mizzen Court, Merritt Island, Fl 32953 321-453-1128, email@example.com 1970-71, Pilot, Da Nang
RICHARD HINSHAW 353 Harmony Lane, Lafayette, IN 47909-2855 765-427-9312, firstname.lastname@example.org 1968-69, Chu Lai, Ordnance
TIMOTHY (CARTWRIGHT) HICKS, 222 Miracle Landing Drive, Maryville, TN 77803 865-441-5781, email@example.com 1982-86, Ordnance
NEWS FROM THE TROOPS….
GEORGE SCHRIENER (K-3 Korea), ROSCOE, IL: “My address is still the same as it was last year. However, my activities have slowed down quite a bit. I voluntarily gave up my driver’s license and sold my car in June. This naturally takes away my flexibility and freedom almost entirely. I am now dependent on others to provide this for me. My son, Brad, and I have breakfast once a week on his day off. He drives me around to do my chores, errands and doctor visits. Not driving anymore has certainly made a major dent in my activities calendar. Aside from breakfast with my son on Fridays, I spend the rest of my time at home reading my bible, watching TV and playing Free Cell. Shortly, I will turn my check writing chores over to my son. I have a severe tremor in my right hand, which is quite bothersome and affects my ability to write.
I am 87 ½ years young, but as noted above, “senioritis” has slowed me down. My activities are pretty much centered on the facility I am living in. One building contains residential living quarters and the other houses the Health and wellness Center, which is where the exercise facility, swimming pool, and doctor’s offices are located. The non-residential building is part of the Beloit Health and wellness system. I became aware of the possibility that the University of Wisconsin at Madison may buy this building. Time will tell.
You may or may not remember that last year I did not publish a letter or send out Christmas cards. Sorry about that. I hope that you all enjoyed a happy, healthy and safe 2016, and hope that your 2017 will be filled with God’s blessings. Sometime in the next six months, I hope to activate an email address. I will let you know when that occurs. Until then you have my address and phone number. So, in the meantime, please keep in touch.”
SCOTT STRAWSER: “I’m trying to find out information about my uncle Donald B. Messerschmidt who fought in Vietnam and died in 1969. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery and can’t get any records of him through the National Archives. Thought you could please direct me to someone who has information on this war hero in our family. Sadly, not much is known, so anything would be appreciated.
He graduated from Annapolis in 1959 and a Master’s degree from Naval Postgraduate school in 1967 (Marines) and was killed 29 July 1969 in a routine training flight in Quantico, VA. His co-pilot was Major Anthony A. Yatske, age 29, who also perished in the crash. Don is buried in Arlington, section 13, grave 9604-1 and was 32 when he died. He was looking forward into the space program with NASA had he lived. (EDITORS NOTE: Evidently, Don Messerschmidt flewA-4s with VMA-311 at Chu Lai. I do not recall the name but as our roster is loaded with alumni from the Chu Lai era, maybe some of you may recall seeing him. Any info you can pass on to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
DAVID GONZALEZ, (VMA-311 2010-11), AUSTIN, TX: “I’m mostly looking to redesign the 311 web site and improve the readability and its features. I have designed a web site for my fraternity here in Texas that includes photo albums, member information, contact information, an about page, and even a member log in. it would be nice to take a lot of the content from the Facebook group and have it available on the web site so the content would be a little bit more permanent.
I know the current web page has some important information for upcoming events such as reunions and this would be an important feature of the web site.
Once the site is available, maintaining it, making edits, and adding content would be fairly easy. I’m not sure what host y’all are using, but I can create web sites using HTML, CCS, Java Script, php, ASP and I also have used MySQL for databases. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave has voluntarily agreed to put together a web page for us relieving Fred Townsley. Fred has been doing the web page since the late 90s among his other HAM operations. He is everything on a computer that I am not and that is quite a bit.)
MIKE HEARNE, (VMA-311 63, 65-66), CARMICHAEL, CA: I believe I had told you previously that when the squadrons at Chu Lai that first year mixed up their personnel to enable individuals to PCS back to CONUS. This mixing up personnel to different squadrons allowed the various squadrons to remain as fighting units and remain “in-country” and ship their personnel home when their rotation dates arrived. I was transferred to VMA-211 just down the ramp a ways from VMA-311. So I went fromthe Fighting Tomcats to the Wake Island Avengers.
I have just learned from my VMA-211 Reunion Assn. that my Maintenance Officer at Chu Lai, a Captain Billy Womack, had passed away. We called him “Captain Billy” but not to his face, and he was a Marine’s Marine as well as being a “mustang”. He was a giant of a man and I would think way too big to fit into the cockpit of an A4E. Captain Billy stayed with the corps and retired as a LTC. I later learned that captain Billy was a school teacher down in Texas. Not sure if that’s correct, might just be “scuttlebutt”. Our fellow shipmates are passing over the “Rainbow Bridge” and reporting to St. Peter. Most of us are in our late 60s and 70s now and the “tide” is an outgoing “tide”.
I cannot get over the habit of always putting E-5 after SGT. Because I served in the corps during the transition period of SGT E-4 to SGT E-5. That was when the CMC changed over from General Pate to General Shoup back in 1959-60. Also, I was there for the transition from the M-1 Garand to the M-14. Lots of changes from the Old corps NCO stripes to the new “crossed rifle” stripes.
While with the squadron I was there for the loss of a brave Marine, 1st Lt. Augustus (Gus) Xavier was “KIA” while on a bombing run on and around the army special forces that were being overrun by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. I believe the Maintenance Officer was a Captain Rowe who was my immediate supervisor.”
TERRY TIERNAN (68-69) LETTER FROM DICK UPCHURCH (1969 PILOT): “I was honored to be able to provide a Museum tour to members of my old squadron. We shared a unique experience.
Enclosed are photos of my Skyhawk. One as you remembered it in your letter and the other after the big rocket attack on March 29, 1969. Looking at the effective date of your orders, March 23rd, you almost missed it. A week later I went to Tokyo and ferried a rebuilt A4 back to Chu Lai and soon had my name painted under the canopy rail.
I hope all your VMF/VMA-311 gang enjoyed the Museum tour as much as I enjoyed being their tour guide. I see some of the Chu Lai pilots at reunions of the Marine Skyhawkers and sometimes they show up at the museum. Sadly, some were killed in aircraft accidents not long after they returned to CONUS. Most of us are in our late seventies and eighties now, so every time we get together the numbers are fewer.”
GREG CAIN, (1970-71), BESSEMER, AL: “I had no idea there was a reunion organization for 311 or I would have been involved long ago. I found it looking for a VMA-311 patch to put on my motorcycle vest. I ride with the Patriot Guard and was updating my leather vest.
During our time at Da Nang I became friends with one of our pilots. Our officer/enlisted friendship was established because both our wives were expecting. Lt. Bernard Plassmeyer was lost on September 11th 1970 and his son was born on September 27th 1970. Over the years I have tried to get information about his child and finally made contact with Lt. Plassmeyer’s aunt who connected me with Carol (LT. Plassmeyer’s widow). We have been communicating occasionally for a while now.
We lost two pilots that month. Lt. John D. Lawson on September 1st and Lt. Plassmeyer on the 11th.
COMMANDING OFFICER, VMA-311, LTC CRAIG E. SCHAFFER.
LTC Schaffer graduated from central Missouri State University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation Technology and Power technology. In 1998 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Marine corps. After completion of Basic School, he proceeded to Naval Air Station Pensacola as a student in the Naval air Training command with a follow-on training at NAS Whiting field and NAS Meridian.
He was designated as a Naval Aviator in February 2001. After earing his wings, he was transferred to VMAT-203 as a student in the AV-8B Fleet replacement Squadron. At the conclusion of the AV-8B Harrier training in 2001, he was assigned to Marine attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311).
He held a variety of billets within the VMA-311 operations department. In 2003, he deployed as a member of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and participated in Operation SSOUTHERN WATCH and Operation IRAQUI FREEDOM. Upon his return from deployment he attended Weapons and Tactics Instructors course and served as the squadron WTI. In 2005 he deployed again as the Operations Officer for Det 1 of the 31st MEU.
In 2006 he reported to 3rd battalion, 7th Marines where he served as battalion Assistant Operations Officer, Battalion Air Officer and the 7th Marines RBE Air Officer. In 2007 he deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
At the conclusion of his Air Officer tour, in 2007, he transferred to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 where he served as Administrative Officer and Maintenance Officer.
In 2010 he was assigned to VMA-214 and worked as Assistant Operations Officer, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer. In 2010, he deployed as the Detachment Officer-in-Charge for the 11th MEU.
In 2012, he attended the Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Upon completion of resident school, he was transferred back to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 to serve as their Executive Officer.
In June 2015, he was assigned to MAG-13 Headquarters where he served as the director of Safety and Standardization.
His personal decorations include Air Medal with 4 Strike Flight Awards. Navy Commendation with four gold stars, and Navy Achievement Medal, selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal and numerous unit awards.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Searching my subway conscious mind I find that I indeed remember some women in Chu Lai. There were some Vietnamese women who worked at the PX and did other jobs around the base. I also seem to remember that there was some Red Cross or Salvation Army girls passing out donuts and coffee one night down on the flight line. That’s the only time I can remember they were there, one time. I remember there was a laundry of some kind that we took our stuff to. There must have been mama-sans working there. I remember it being lucky if you got back the same stuff you sent.
To give good friend Cecil Cheeka a plug. If you tune into Z-NATION on the SCI-FI channel you will catch his smiling face. He’s not a zombie yet but the last time I seen him he was flying a plane and threatening to do a water landing. He plays a character named Uncle Kaskae. 311 Ordie makes good.
With the advent of Fred Townsley retiring as web master for our group I have wondered over the years what one room in Fred’s house looks like and I envision it as thus: Door with a skull and cross bones and a Marine Corp emblem saying “Enter at your own risk”. Inside one wall is covered with HAM operators mics and, amps and whatever other electronics. The other wall is got all his “I love me” things hanging on it. Another wall has a desk covered in computer equipment and monitors. He might have a chair that transfers him from one side of the room to another and it is my guess that his wife, Ethel,
has never been inside and has on numerous occasions threatened to call the bio-hazard team in because of all the radio interference on her TV set. Am I close Fred? Thanks for all your help over the years. Semper Fi, my friend. (am still here and will give all my information to DAVID GONZALEZ so he can take over the web page.)
On behalf of the Group officers, Cecil and Chris Cheeka, George and Jackie Phander, Ralphie and Anita Reed, Fred and Ethel Townsley, Sue and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Health for everyone in 2017. That we may have peace and good will towards all.
For the Reunion Association
TOMCAT AIR, ON TIME ON TARGET!