Sunday, February 28, 2010

28 February 1970

Saturday night
28 February 1970

Another month down and ? to go.  Our most persistent rumors still point to June or July pull-out.

I wrote tomorrow’s flight schedule and I really like doing it.  We get a “frag” from group that has mission numbers, ordnance loads, and target times.  I fill in all the names to fly the missions.  It took me about two and a half hours but I should be able to cut down the time after I get used to it.

I was told today that I am going to FAC duty next month for 90 days!!  I should receive my orders tomorrow and will know the exact day.  It will probably be during the last two weeks of next month.

Going FAC will mean the mail situation will be really bad.  I understand sometime they go without mail for up to two weeks.  Even longer without showers!

At any rate I’ll get my chance at being a Grunt!  I’m looking forward to it in a way, and it’s not anymore dangerous than flying over here.

I didn’t get any mail today.

When Mike Breeding had his accident, and since they are missing, we had to have a detailed investigation into the accident.  As a part of the investigation I was asked to write a statement about Mike, his activities during that day, and what I thought of his flying.   The statement will become part of the official investigation of the incident.

I understand the search for them has been completely abandoned.

The squadron is having a beach party tomorrow for all hands.  It will be in the afternoon, so we’re only flying tomorrow morning.  However, we’re flying as many missions in half a day as we would in a whole day.  That made writing the schedule a little harder.

(Picture taken in summer, 1967, before reporting for four years of active duty.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

27 February 1970

Friday night
27 February 1970

I really can’t think of anything to write.  Every thing is the same here, as usual.  Each day just like the day before, with the only difference being the day changes on my watch.  Someone was saying this morning that if we were back in the states, we would be happy tomorrow is Saturday, but here it’s no different.  It’ll probably take a couple of months to get used to having the weekends off!  Ha.

Only flew once today.  I’ve quit “sniveling” hops, as we call it, which means getting yourself on extra hops your not scheduled for.  The way I see it, every hop I “snivel” is one more chance of
getting shot down.  I think I’ve flown 40 missions this month, which is more than any month since I’ve been here.

We’ve played bridge the past two nights, for want of anything else to do.

Friday, February 26, 2010

26 February 1970

Thursday night
26 February 1970

I got mail today.

Today was our last day on the hot pad, and I spent 12 very long hours down there.  I did get two scrambles this afternoon!  On our second scramble we got a real good BDA. Thirteen bunkers destroyed, one secondary explosion and one secondary fire.

Yesterday, one of my hops got four KBA (killed by air).  Seems like our BDAs have been better lately, than they were when I first got here.  Also, we’re bombing in a different area, mostly, than a few months ago.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

25 February 1970

Wednesday night
25 February 1970

Three days now without mail.  I didn’t write last night because I was on the hot pad all night, and didn’t have anything to write anyway.

I flew twice yesterday off the hot pad, and three times today.

Since I got my 100 missions, I’ve lost count of how many I have now!  Ha.  Just like I said.

The most prevalent rumor is that MAG-13 will be out of South Vietnam by the end of June.  I hope so, needless to say, and it would be nice if 122 goes to El Toro, eh?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

23 February 1970

Monday night
23 February 1970

Nothing new here, just the same old routine day after day after day.  No mail today.

After I wrote last night, I was called down to the hot pad because “they” thought we would be scrambled.  Seems “they” had found about 150 VC somewhere.  Anyway, we did not get scrambled and we had to spend the whole night on the pad.  Consequently I didn’t get a good nights sleep, and I’m more tired than last night.

I was on the pad all afternoon and did get scrambled once.  I hate the hot pad second only to being away from home.  And when I hate anything that much, it must be bad.

We played bridge again today, as that’s the only way to pass the time down there.  I really do like the game, but can’t play well at all!  I play bridge about as well as canasta!  Ha.

The movie tonight was one we had here about three weeks ago!  Now that’s really bad when we have to watch reruns!

Photo taken at Marine Corps Birthday Ball, November, 1967.

Monday, February 22, 2010

21 and 22 February 1970

Saturday night
21 February 1970

I didn’t fly yesterday at all.  As everyday goes by it looks more and more as though MAG-13 will be out soon (the next 3-4 months).  The big question is where we’ll go.

I flew a TPQ tonight, my first mission in over 48 hours.  There have been only two days this month when I haven’t flown, and yesterday was the second.  We start hot pad duty again tomorrow and it just doesn’t seem possible it’s already been 10 days since we were down there last.

I received a package of about 10 candy bars!!!  Hersheys, Almond Joys, Mounds, and Butternuts.

Sunday night
22 February 1970

I’m very tired tonight, and I haven’t done a thing all day.  I didn’t fly, and was on the hot pad all afternoon.

We played bridge for over five hours straight, with not one hot pad scramble.  I’m on the B pad tonight which doesn’t mean anything.  I’m sleepy, so off to get some sleep.

Friday, February 19, 2010

19 February 1970

Thursday night
19 February 1970

I now have exactly 8 months remaining of 12!  The 19th is my date to return in October.  Actually I’ve been over here about 17 - 18 weeks.

No mail for me today - but I didn’t expect any since I got mail yesterday.

I flew only once today.  We bombed an enemy headquarters, supposedly.  I really doubt some of the targets we get!

Ever since I was assigned to fly with Kurt, he’s the only one I’ve flown with, and I really like it - flying with a lieutenant all the time.

I’ve worked out for two straight days now!  I played four very strenuous games of handball yesterday, and played tennis for an hour today.  I don’t know if I’m losing weight, but I do feel better - getting exercise and not eating as much as I had been in the past.  I’m not interested in getting “muscular”, I’m to lazy for that!  Ha.  I just want to slim up a little.  There was a time when I wished I weighed 175 lbs!  Now that I do, I wish I weighed 160 lbs.  Never happy I guess!!

We had a good comedy for a movie tonight.  A Peter Sellers movie - “The Party”.  really hilarious!  I wish we could have more movies like that to help cheer us up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

18 February 1970

Wednesday night
18 February 1970

Flew once today, a close air support mission, and mission number 100!  We had a little celebration.  Poured some champagne and received my 100 mission patch from the civilian representative of McDonnell-Douglas aircraft, the makers of the F-4.

Top photo - Pilot Kurt Wilbrecht sits in cockpit while "hot refueling" aircraft after return from mission.  [aircraft is fueled with engines running to save time]  RIO headed to line shack to start on post-mission paper work.  After aircraft is fueled, it is taxied to, and parked, in revetment to be loaded with ordnance and made ready for next mission.
Second photo - me getting ride in after 100th mission.  Normally would walk in!

Third photo - me pouring champagne for Kurt "the joker" Wilbrecht.
Fourth photo - me pouring champagne for the squadron commander who was pilot of the lead aircraft of the mission.
Fifth photo - me pouring champagne for the RIO of the lead aircraft.

Sixth photo - me receiving my 100 mission patch from the civilian representative of McDonnell-Douglas.
Seventh photo - me pouring champagne for my bridge partner, Russ.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

17 February 1970

Tuesday night
17 February 1970

It’s funny how I can’t think of anything original to write!  I seem bogged down, always saying the same things in my letters.  Maybe it’s because I write everyday and am not articulate enough to write interesting letters.  I was reading about those letters Jackie Kennedy had written - and the ones that were reprinted in the paper were “different” - she used words and phrases which showed her education.   Despite my education in Speech and English, I’m actually almost illiterate!

I’m reading the book The Pawnbroker which is a very good book.  I would like to see the movie.

I would like to get some pre-recorded cassettes - perhaps 3 or 4 - of such artists as Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, Dean Martin, etc.  I prefer all vocalists because I already have several cassettes of instrumentals.  Mike was to get me some cassettes when he went to survival school - but since he is missing now - - - .

We received a report today that a parachute has been found in the ocean in the area where the plane went down.  We are waiting for the parachute to be taken to Da Nang to be identified.  In a F-4 we have 3 different kinds of parachutes and it could be anyone of the three.  There is the personnel parachute, a drogue parachute (a small chute used to deploy the personnel chute), and the drag chute ( the small chute used to slow down after landing).  Which chute and it’s condition could give some idea of what might have happened.

The only mail I received today was the enclosed card.  I’m dismayed at the inefficiency of USAA!

We played bridge tonight in lieu of watching the movie (The Devil’s Bride).  Russ, was my partner and we won!  Russ received a single mission air medal for a mission he flew back in September.  This is the award given for an outstanding mission but not quite good enough to earn the DFC.

I flew my 99th mission today and should get my 100th tomorrow.  After that there won’t be anything to aim for.  I don’t expect to be here long enough to fly 200 missions.

My assigned pilot now is Kurt Wilbrecht.  He was my roommate for awhile right after he got here, but had to move to another hooch.

I work in operations now and am the “MARESFORSTAT” officer and Schools Officer.

MARESFORSTAT is a great long ? Anagram?  Which stands for a long complicated reporting system.  It involves making reports about the squadron’s  readiness and state of equipment on hand, etc.  There are about 5 - 6 reports to be made monthly.  It’s all computerized, and the reports are made on computer cards, then sent to wing, via group.  As schools officer, I act as a coordinator for sending people to all the various schools for which we receive quotas.

What a long letter!  Almost like running off at the hand!  Ha.

Photo - 1/Lt. Kurt Wilbrecht

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday night
16 February 1970

I have the ODO tonight!  Another of the many good deals we have at Chu Lai!  We also had a Filipino  floor show at the club tonight.  I was able to go because we don’t have any flights tonight.  We also have a floor show scheduled for the 21st.  It’s a group from Australia and should be very good.

We’re not flying at night for a few days because they’re doing some work on the runway at night, so they have to close the field.  The only thing that goes out between 2200 and 0600 is hot pad scrambles or barcaps.

The only mail for me today was a roll of newspapers.

I  only flew once today for my 98th mission and I’m scheduled for only one tomorrow, so looks like I won’t get my 100th until the 18th.  Two  weeks ago I predicted I would get my 100th on the 19th.

Well , I’m out of words!  It’s 2330 so I guess I’ll try to get some sleep.

Monday, February 15, 2010

15 February 1970

Sunday night
15 February 1970

We had today, of all things, a field meet!  It was sponsored by MABS-13 and all the squadrons in MAG-13 participated.  They had everything - 100 yard dash, high jump, broad jump, 220 yard dash, long distance run, etc.  It was quite a deal including free food and beer for all.  122 finished 2nd in the overall standings, to 314, by a difference of only 3 points.  So you see, even in combat we get our fun - but we can’t get our water heater fixed!  Ha.

Today was just like every other day for the past 3 weeks, as far as flying goes.  I flew 2 missions,
however I think I was the only person in the squadron to do so.  Most everyone else only flew once.  I was scheduled for only one, but had to take a hop for a RIO who didn’t feel well.

I shared one bag of the corn chips and some bean dip with some of the guys tonight and they really liked it.

I’m not very talkative tonight - so I’ll close!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

14 February 1970

Saturday night
14 February 1970

It’s hard to believe that February is half over!  Another two weeks and it’ll be March.  I sure like all the flying because it makes time fly by!  The only bad time of the day is in the evening when I have time to really be lonesome.  The rest of the time I’m kept busy.

I just looked up at my calendar and I haven’t  marked out the past 3 days - I’ve been so busy.  I see that today is Valentine’s day - Happy Valentine’s Day.

I was ODO this morning from 0900 - 1200, then flew two CAS missions this afternoon.  It seems I enjoy flying a little more each time I go out!  I keep thinking about my friends who are dead or missing, from flying, but I always tell myself  they could have died in a car accident just as easy.

They called off the search for Mike and Peck this morning.  I guess they thought they had covered the area thoroughly with no results.  We’re going to pack up Mike’s things tomorrow and send them to his folks.

Sometime I need to write his girl friend because she’ll never find out any other way.  I don’t know if they were very close because he didn’t talk about her that much.

Believe it or not, the movie tonight is a rerun! I saw it here about 2 months ago.  You’d think that at least we could get some decent movies over here for our “fighting men”.  All the money that’s being spent on this war and we can’t even get a few simple items for our comfort.

Our water heater is still out of order - two months now!  I missed dinner tonight because I was flying, so I had to eat hamburgers at the o’club.  They didn’t have hamburger buns so they used hot dog buns and the deep fryer was out of order, so no French fries!  You know, it’s the little things like the above that really get to a person.  The danger of flying we can accept, but not this little stuff.

Boy sounds as though I’m really upset - uh?  I’m blowing off steam.  We didn’t get any mail in Chu Lai today!  Another example.

122 is number one in the group now!  We’re ahead of the other two squadrons in number of combat missions flown this month!  We’ve really been working hard for this honor for the past 5 months!

314 was the number one squadron all along, but they had two planes crash and ruined some engines in some other planes, so they just can’t keep up now.  We did lose one plane, but got 2 new ones this week, so we’re better off.

I’ve about 95 combat missions, now, and over 120 points, so, actually, I’ve earned 6 air medals.  I hope to  get my 100th mission in 2 or 3 days, if I keep flying 2 hops a day.

I really feel comfortable in the F-4 now, because I know what I’m doing  and feel like an “old pro”!  Ha.  I don’t think I could ever be happy flying training missions again like we did back in the states.  That’s why I want to go to Glynco so bad, so I can be an instructor.

Well, enough nonsense for tonight.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

13 February 1970

Friday night
13 February 1970

This has been another long day of hard, tiring flying - and no news about our missing crew.  They’ve been missing for over 24 hours now and, I guess are officially missing action. 

They were (are?) Mike Breeding, my roommate, and Peck Bradshaw.  Mike was my pilot and we had flown together several times. In fact we flew together yesterday morning.  We’ve got all his personal gear together and put it on his bed, which is about 3 feet from my bed.  You’ve never seen anything as depressing as this is.  We still don’t know what happened to them, but we suspect they crashed in the ocean just east of Hue, South Vietnam. 

They’ve been searching by boat and air all day, but have found nothing.  I guess no news is good news.  There is a very good chance they ejected okay and we just can’t find them.  I sure hope so.

Peck was probably the most popular guy in the squadron and everyone is more depressed about him than Mike.  Of course no one else has known Mike for 4 years as I have.  Peck has a wife and son.

The weather has been very bad all day, (which is hampering the search effort) so the flying wasn’t to good.  I did get to fly two hops - one a TPQ this morning and an escort this afternoon.  The hop this afternoon I flew was with Maj. Gibson and was his 200th mission.  On this escort we were escorting a TA-4 that was making a recon of the roads in Laos that are used by the north to get troops and supplies to the south.  This is the commonly known “Ho Chi Min” trail.  They found a truck which we tried to bomb, but missed - because Maj. Gibson goofed!!!!!!  Boy was he mad at himself - and on his 200th mission!  Ha.

The movie tonight is something awful called “The Ugly Ones” so I skipped it.

Photo - First Lieutenant Michael H. Breeding, USMCR, KIA 12 February 1970.

Friday, February 12, 2010

12 February 1970

Thursday night
12 February 1970

It’s now after midnight.  I helped write the schedule tonight.

We lost a bird today.  They were on a section TPQ and “dash 2” [second plane in a flight of two or more aircraft] apparently crashed for some unknown reason.

Neither the plane nor the crew have been found and they are listed as missing in action. 

The weather was very bad at the time so the lead aircraft lost sight of “dash two“.  The crew are very close friends of mine.  I can’t say who they are since they’re only “missing”. 

The search was called off at night fall and will resume in the morning.

I’m very tired from a long, sad day - so I’ll close.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

11 February 1970

Wednesday night
11 February 1970

I got a package today, with  Ritz crackers, Fritos, bean dip, and peanuts!

Rumors are really flying, now!   Some say we’ll be going to Japan, others say Hawaii, others say El Toro!  I hope someone is right instead of everyone being wrong!  Ha.

I flew twice today - once this morning, and a scramble off the hot pad this afternoon.  I now have 89 combat missions.  I’m also scheduled for a TPQ tonight at 0400.  So, I’ll get a split nights rest.  A good thing is that we’ll be off the hot pad after 0600 tomorrow - for 10 days.

My roommate bought a reefer!!  He bought it at the PX for $74.00.  He’s a bachelor and has plenty of money!   So I’ll be able to keep certain perishables, now. 

I haven’t had dinner yet, so I’m going to eat now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday night
9 February 1970

I got mail today and a Navy Times.

I haven’t flown today, yet. However I’m on the hot pad tonight and might get to fly a B-52 escort - I hope so.  I’ve flown 16 missions this month and I want to keep up the pace.

Russ Fyke got back today from his trip to Japan - and as I understand it, they almost didn’t make it!!  They were low on fuel and had no navigational aids working in the plane.  They flew in from the Philippines.

Tet is about over, I guess, and we’ve had no attacks here at Chu Lai.  All in all, everything appears to be fairly quiet.  We’ve had rain all day, so we haven’t flown much today.  I was suppose to fly a CAS mission this morning with O.J., but the weather was to bad.

I read in the Navy Times that the Army is taking over all command in I corps from the Marines!  That, to me, is a very good sign that they must intend to pull out the remainder of the Marine ground forces.  And if they do that, we’ll be pulled out to - I hope.  It sure would be nice if I was in El Toro in June or July.

Tomorrow night I have ground defense duty.  I’ll be the platoon commander for one night, of the Marines who are guarding one sector of the perimeter here.  It’s no big thing, as I understand it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

8 February 1970

Sunday night
8 February 1970

I flew two hops today - a CAS this morning and a TPQ tonight.  I flew both with lieutenants  and I really enjoyed them!  I like flying with lieutenants so much more.  Maj. Gibson is out of the squadron now.

VMFA-314 lost another plane this morning!  That’s two within 48 hours.  This one was shot down, but both guys got out okay.  When I first heard about this plane being shot down, they thought it was the plane that Pat Skeldon was flying in!!!  Boy was I worried about that.  However it turned out that it was the other plane in the flight!

I heard today that the baby of Capt. George Landon and his wife was prematurely still-born!  I wonder if this was at Cherry Point Hospital.

I haven’t played any handball in the past few days.  I just haven’t had time during the daytime because of all the flying.  I don’t like to play at night because then I just want to relax and watch the movie - or read.

I still haven’t received the cookies!!!!

We got no mail today in the squadron!  Maybe tomorrow - I hope.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

7 February 1970

7 February 1970
Saturday night

I still haven’t received those cookies.  If they’ve been lost, that makes two things lost - the tape and the cookies!  All this time without anything being lost, and now two things close together.

I flew twice today - one the TPQ at 0100 and the other a scramble off the hot pad this morning.  I was to fly another hop this afternoon, but our plane “went down” [mechanical malfunction] just as we were about to take off.  It’s a good thing we didn’t get airborne.

VMFA-314, here at Chu Lai, lost a plane last night.  One of it’s engines failed on takeoff and the crew ejected successfully.  The plane crashed and burned just off the end of the runway.  That was at 0300 this morning.

The movie tonight is one I saw in Okinawa, so I’m going to bed a little early tonight, for I’m sure I’ll be on the hot pad tomorrow morning.  Actually, I’m on the pad now, on 30 minute alert in my hooch.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

6 February 1970

Friday night
6 February 1970

This will have to be short because I have a midnight brief for a TPQ.  I’ve already flown once today.

We had a squadron party tonight and I just now was able to get away (2100) so I’m going to get 40 winks.

We go on the hot pad tomorrow - so the next 5 days will be very tiring!!!

I got a package today containing chocolate chip cookies and candy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

5 February 1970

Thursday night
5 February 1970

No mail today for anyone!  I don’t have a lot of news tonight - in fact none at all!  Ha.

I flew twice today - and have now flown 11 missions already this month!  If this pace keeps up, I’ll be dead by the end of the month!!!  A nice rate of flying is two hops one day, then one hop the next, etc.  But two or three hops a day eventually wears a person out.

I flew with my roommate both times today.  We’re going to be flying together all the time since Major Gibson is leaving. 

The “truce” for Tet started tonight and will last for 24 hours, I guess.  We won’t be flying any missions in country, but will probably fly several out of country.

I sat out in the sun for 30 minutes at lunch today, and I now have a very nice sun burn on certain parts of my body - thighs, arms, stomach. I was surprised at how red I got just from 30 minutes.

I’ve been so busy flying the last week that I haven’t had time to play hardball.   But I’m still on my diet!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 February 1970

2 February 1970

I’ve a stack of letters here that I’ve been intending to answer, but it’s always easier to put if off “one more day”!

I’ve been flying quite a lot since I got back from Okinawa.  I’ve been flying at least twice a day for the past week.  I don’t mind the flying, just so long as I get a good night’s sleep.  I’ve already flown once this morning and have another after lunch.

I’ve started carrying my camera with me on all flights, just in case I should be able to get some good pictures.  If I go to Ubon again, I’ll be prepared.

The weather cleared up last night.  We’d been having cloudy, rainy, cool weather, but today is sunny and warm.  Good flying weather.

I was planning to go to Tam Ky tomorrow, but I just found out that they may need me to fly during the afternoon - when I was planning to go.  I sure want to go up there again, but flying comes first, I guess.  Maybe I’ll still get to go.

Most of the guys in 542 went back to the states because they had to fly the airplanes back.  However, the ones who have less than nine months in over here, are supposed to come right back - like Skip, Rick Hines, and some others.  They’ll probably get to spend some time with their wives in the states, but probably not more than a few days.  Those guys are sure lucky!

Most of the people who have gone on R & R say that leaving Hawaii or where ever they went for R & R, is worse than the first time they left their wives to come over here.  Russ Fyke said he really felt awful after his R & R.  Most of these people take R & R as soon as they’re eligible (at the end of 3 months) but, I think it’s better to wait awhile.  Those guys won’t see their wives now for about 8 - 9 months unless they go home early.  I’d still rather wait and have it to look forward to, and then have a short time afterwards.  Of course I ‘m still hoping I get to Japan.

Monday, February 1, 2010

1 February 1970

Sunday night
1 February 1970

It’s late and I have to get up at 0530 tomorrow, so this will be short and sweet!

I flew twice today which makes me 73 combat missions.  I should have no trouble at all getting my 100 mission patch by the end of this month.

I lack four points having five air medals.  I flew an A-6 escort tonight, which really got messed up - no fault of ours.  We got shot at with anti-aircraft fire, but it didn’t come very close.

Major Gibson told me today that he’s trying to get me moved into the operations office, to a job in there.  I sure hope it’s approved, because I sure don’t like what I’m doing now.

I’m going to get some sleep now.