I also never expected to see my 25th birthday.
At a stopover at Camp Courtney in Okinawa where we were to get more shots and jungle utilities I learned that my orders were changed to Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron-36 based in Futema, Okinawa. The Marine Corps was drawing down forces from Vietnam. Squadrons and troops were beginning to pull out.
I never did go to Vietnam. I never flew any combat missions. I have never, over the past 40 years, lost that twinge of guilt for not serving in Vietnam with my brother Marines.
|Cpl. Deckard, 1/Lt. Irwin, Sgt. Jones FUJI DET|
|Maj. Hank Kunkel, THE HEAD HAULER|
Our O.I.C. Major Hank Kunkel, was one of the most outstanding men I had the privilege of serving under. With a great sense of humor and a great trust and respect for all of us he gave us all - all the responsibility we could handle. He taught us how to really fly the Phrog and be good Marine Officers. The Major was an example of the leader I wanted to become - where the troops come first. With his training I soon became an Aircraft Commander.
Our great love and respect for this man brought about the unit"s nickname: HANK'S HAULERS - YOU CALL WE HAUL. Our patch depicted a Marine 6X6 Truck with rotors flying in front of Mt. Fuji.
In researching for my blog I was saddened to learn that this fine man, who had now retired, succumbed to Cancer after serving 4 tours in Southeast Asia.
|Hank's Haulers at a Hail and Farewell Picnic|
While in this Detachment we had the opportunity to fly throughout the Tokyo, Yokohama, Mt Fuji area of Japan. One day we might fly senior officers to and from Hardy Barracks - a headquarters in the middle of downtown Tokyo. The next day we would be supporting artillery Marines at Mt Fuji. We saw "Mother Watanebe's fort, a fort protestors had built in the northern impact area of one of the ranges to keep the Marines from using that area. We raced the Bullet Train which could outrun the "46" at it's max 150 MPH. Whatever needed to be hauled or delivered - the Fuji Det did it. You Call - We Haul!
|PHROG at Camp Fuji|
|Mt Fuji with rice paddys in the foreground|
|Mother Watanabe's "Fort"|
|View on way into Tokyo from about 500'|
|Looking out flying to Camp Fuji.. ..Hope he's wearing ear plugs!||-|
|One of Hank's Haulers headed to work|