This past Monday, Les Stevenson, a USMC Vietnam Veteran and writer for a magazine for veterans called "At Ease", interviewed me to learn more about MCATA and about the VMGR Memorial Monument. We had a great conversation, and I know that Les agrees that our story, and the story of our Marines lost and to be memorialized on the monument is an important one that must be told.
Before we spoke, Les, who served as a ground radio operator with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, dug through his photos looking for anything he had that might be KC-130 or VMGR related. He found a photo he took at Dong Ha, as his unit was relocating to Phu Bai. It was taken on his second day in Vietnam, in 1966.
Isn't it interesting that the picture he sent me from 1966 was of KC-130, tail number 816? Not so much? Well, let me tell you why it is to me. In July of 1980, I went on a 17 day AST mission out of Futenma. It was on that trip that I earned my First Navigator designation. The writer, Les, a USMC vet, sends me a picture of an airplane that is certainly near and dear to my heart. I immediately thought of my buddy and MCATA Member CWO-4 Terry Ruhter, USMC Retired, who was a CWO-2 at the time and gave this then young (and smart-assed) Corporal his first check. It's a small world, and this USMC world is even smaller. Sometimes stuff feels like it's got to be something more than coincidence. (This is sometimes.)
Les also sent me a second Vietnam photo, with a question. Taken in 1967, taken from Camp Carroll, he took this second picture at night and it shows flares being dropped. Les thinks they were probably dropped by a C-130, but isn't sure. He said by the pattern he doesn't think they could be artillery delivered flares. He asked for our expert opinions. What do you think?
Some of you with first-hand knowledge and experience, tell me what you think in the comments. Does this look like our work to you?
I'm looking forward to Les' upcoming piece. I expect he'll be talking to another member or two. He lives in Ft Worth. Too bad we weren't talking prior to the reunion last October. I'm sure a visit with us there would have added immensely to the article.