Sunset refueling exercise over the skies
of Eastern North Carolina. Aircraft are part the the 2nd Marine
Air Wing. Photographer was in a second Phantom F4, part of VMFA-513.
The dangling refueling pod was waiting for us. By the time we
actually did the refueling it was to dark to photograph. C-130
refueler is from the VMGR-252 squadron. The F4 in the above photo
is number '00'.
There was also a color photograph made
of this scene and it was used in recruitment brochures. This black-and-white
version was published widely in newspapers up and down the east
VFMA-513 was part of MAG-24. In 1965 and
1966 it was Vietnam flying out of Da Nang in support of Marine
ground troops. The squadron is now in Yuma, Az flying AV-8B Harrier
MAG-24 also had training squadron, VMT-203,
of TA4Fs, a new two-seater version of the A4 Skyhawk. With the
long nose that resulted from the extra seat the plane actually
looked pretty good.
That TA4F was a lot of fun. This photographer
went on a training mission with the Training Officer as my pilot.
He wasn't happy I was along. The pressure to train pilots for
Vietnam was great. And with me in the back-seat one less fighter
pilot was getting trained. Only problem was my ride was requested
by Headquarters Marine Corps. They wanted a formation shot of
three or four TA4s.
My pilot didn't give a shit what Headquarters
Marine Corps wanted and didn't provide me with adaquate time to
photograph the other three TA4Fs in formation until after the
training session was over and we were headed back to the base.
After sunset. Kinda hard to use a flash strobe up there. No photos.
I had a great time though. We went through
a couple of dog fights. Just like the ones that used to happen
all the time before the heat and inferred air-to-air missiles
came to dominate air battles.
After all the ups and downs, the sharp
turns, rolls and spirels were done one of the other pilots asks
the my pilot how his back seat, me, was doing? He said, "Probably
puking his guts out all over my plane."
That was it for me. Pissed off that I wasn't
going to get my photos I located the hot mike switch and turned
it on. This gives me communications with all the aircraft. I started
singing the Marine Corps Hymn.
After getting a couple of lines out the
pilot told me to shutup. He was actually polite to me after that.
He even apologized for not giving me a chance to get the photos
I needed for Headquarters Marine Corps.
A few months later a Headquarters Marine
Corps movie crew was on the base and trying to get some filming
done at this same training squadron. The squadron commander called
the ISO office and asked for me. One of the boys behind the green
door (That would be the OIC or the AOIC) said I wasn't available
and could he help him.
The squadron commander said, "No!
I want that skinny photographer. I need him over here. That dam
film crew is driving me nuts and I want him to talk to them."
"But I can do that for you sir."
"I want that photographer. I know
he can handle them. He handled my Training Officer!"
The boy from
behind the green door was totally confused but someone
did locate me and I did go over there to see what was going on.
Turns out all the film crew wanted was
for the planes to be a little closer together. So I asked one
of the plane captains for the change. The squadron quickly manuvered
the planes together before sunset. The shot was gotten and everybody
Turns out I went to Photo School with one
of the members of the film crew, Bill Bradly. He was also looking
for me to talk to the squadron commander about the same problem.
I never could figure out what all the fuss
was about. The only thing I could think of was that the director
for the film shoot was a true Hollywood shit. He managed to piss
off everyone in the squadron and on the film crew. All the squadron
wanted was for someone other than the director to ask for the
change in the planes.
This was one of the few times I was the
pease keeper and not the trouble maker. Kinda boring. Rather be
the trouble maker.
Getting the ride in the TA4 was only possible
because I had gotten that back seat certification. No other photographer
on the base had it. So even though the assignment to photograph
the TA4s should have been done by a base photo-lab photographer
I was instead selected.
I may have been that ass-hole ISO photographer
to some but I got the rides in the back seat not them. Sometimes
you just gotta be lucky.
- July 1, 1947 Marine Training Squadron
1 (VMT-1), Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic was established at
Cherry Point, North Carolina.
- November 30, 1951 Marine Training Squadron
1, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic was disestablished at Cherry
Point, North Carolina.
- July 1, 1967 Marine Training Squadron
1 (VMT-1), was re-established and assigned to the Second Marine
Air Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina.
- December of 1967, VMT-1 was disestablished
and re-established as Marine Training Squadron 203, (VMT-203).
- May 1, 1972, Marine Training Squadron
203, (VMAT-203) was redesignated Marine Attack Training Squadron
203 (VMAT-203 as the squadrons mission was changed to light
attack jet training.