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USMC Photo A421519

An F8E Crusader is shown at the Da Nang Airbase with all the armament it is capable of carrying. In 1965, one Crusader squadron, VMF(A W)-312, operatedfrom Da Nang, while VMF(AW)-212 was stationed on the attack carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34).

Another fixed-wing component of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing which performed yeoman service was the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152). This squadron, reinforced with aircraft from VMGR-353, was based at the Marine Air Station, Futema, Okinawa, but maintained a detachment, usually four aircraft, at Da Nang. The Lockheed KC-130 Hercules aircraft of the squadron orbited over the South China Sea to provide a ready fuel supply to American aircraft.* The presence of these flying fuel tanks was especially valuable during the monsoon season when pilots had to take into consideration that their home field might be closed because of weather. The KC-130s also were used extensively for resupply within South Vietnam and for shuttling personnel and material between South Vietnam, Japan, and Okinawa. Additionally, the aircraft furnished an important service to the Marine ground units by providing illumination in numerous flare drop missions.

During 1965, one Marine fixed-wing squadron, VMF(AW)-212, participated in the Navy's air war over both North and South Vietnam. VMF(AW)-212, as one of the five squadrons of Attack Carrier Wing 16 (CVW-16), flew combat air strikes for seven months from the attack carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34). On 27 January 1965, Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Ludden led his squadron from the Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to San Diego, California where it embarked on board the Oriskany. The squadron, with 12 ling-Temco-Vought F-8E Crusader jet fighters, boarded the carrier with a complement of 22 officers, of whom 16 were pilots, and 173 enlisted men.

After a two-month training period, Oriskany sailed from San Diego on 5 April, arriving off the Vietnamese coast on 8 May. That same day, the pilots of VMF(AW)-212 exchanged their peacetime orange flight suits for green combat clothing and then flew their first combat missions. Their first strikes over South Vietnam ranged from the Mekong Delta to northern II CTZ. Controlled by U. S. Air Force tactical air controllers (airborne), the 'Lancers,' as 212 was known, struck enemy troops and supply areas with 5-inch Zuni rockets and 20mm

*Colonel John D. Noble, who commanded MAG-12 until 19 September, remarked in his comments that the KC-130s 'provided in-flight fueling to MAG-12 A-4s during most, if not all, of June 1965 while the strip was under construction. In order to carry the optimum ordnance loads from the short operating length of the strip and not disrupt the Seabees' efforts down field at every launch, all A-4 takeoffs were made with light fuel loads. One or more KC-130s would orbit over the field to top off the A-4s with fuel to give them the range and/or endurance needed for their missions.' Col John D. Noble, Comments on draft MS, dtd lNov76 (Vietnam Comment File).

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