LtCol. L.A. Gulling's Letters to Parents/Wives
(The first letter was written to announce the Marine's arrival in Vietnam)

Marine Aircraft Group 36
1st Marine Aircraft Wing FMFPac
FPO San Francisco, California 96602

 APR 1968

My dear (Parent/Wife)

This letter is to inform you that your son has arrived safely in the Republic of Vietnam.

You can rest assured that your son’s welfare as well as his fellow Marines is the concern of his immediate superiors and commanding General of the lst Marine Aircraft Wing.

Every effort is made to see that all our Marines receive the very best in weapons, equipment, and clothing as soon as they arrive in Vietnam.  There may be temporary shortages of some items at times due to, the long shipping time., but by and large our Marines are better equipped in Vietnam than during any previous conflict.  Food is plentiful and hot meals are served three times a day. When on an operation away from the base camps our Marines eat individual canned field rations known as 'IC" Rations., which are not up to the normal hot meals, but are nourishing and have a varied menu.

Our medical care is considered the finest in the world.  There are hospitals immediately available with specialists to handle any emergency. A casualty here in the lst Marine Aircraft Wing, can be under the emergency care of a surgeon even quicker than if he were at a base in the states.  Each major unit has at least one doctor and' even the smallest unit has a trained air air man (corpsman) with it.  In the event of serious ailment or injury the next of kin is notified immediately and is kept informed of the condition of the patient until the patient is off the serious list.  The next of kin is not notified in the case of minor ailments although personnel with minor ailments are often hospitalized to ensure the best possible treatment.

Religious services of all faiths are regularly and frequently conducted and the Chaplain is always present to assist in any personal Problem.

One of the Major elements in the war in Vietnam is the weather.  It is a semi-tropical environment where the temperature ranges from a high of 120 with 90% humidity., to a low of 55.  It is very hot and humid from April to August with extremely dusty conditions. What is known as the monsoon season begins in October and continues through January.  Characteristics of the monsoon season are heavy downpours of short duration followed by an almost constant drizzling rain.

All of our personnel are encouraged to write home often. -These letters will certainly provide you an insight of his duties and everyday events.  The mail service is exceptionally good and letters usually arrive from home in about five days.  There may be certain times during operations in the field when personnel are so busily engaged that there is little opportunity to write.  However., these periods are of short duration.

There are busy times for everyone in Vietnam, however, we fully appreciate the concern and anxiety of families at home.  If at any time I can answer a question to relieve your anxiety feel free to write.  Such correspondence will be held in strict confidence and needless to say will not reflect on the person concerned in any manner.  Correspondence should addressed to the Commanding Officer of your son’s unit.  Do not include the name of your son’s Commanding Officer in the address.  Letters addressed in this; manner are considered personal and in the event of reassignment of the Commanding Officer, your letter would be forwarded to him at his next duty station.

In the event you need to contact your son immediately for an extreme emergency, you should contact the nearest Red Cross Officer for assistance.

Under the conditions the majority of our units operate in Vietnam, it is not feasible for Commanding Officers to write individual letters to families of the thousands of marines who will come to Vietnam.  In the interest of establishing contact between Commanding Officers and the families of their personnel has been necessary to resort to a form letter. I am sure you can a appreciate that the real intent and spirit of this letter is to establish a stronger bond between you and your Son and the Marine Corps during this Vietnam crisis,

Sincerely yours,

Your son's address is:
HMM-364, lst MAW FPO
San Francisco, California 96602

(This letter advised them of the the previous months events)

Marine Aircraft Group 36
1st Marine Aircraft Wing FMFPac
FPO San Francisco, California 96602

8 April 1968

Dear (Parent/Wife)

 Another month has become history for HMM-364.  It’s been close to six months since the Squadron left Santa Ana and began its own contribution to the cause here in South East Asia.  Hopefully, this note will convey to you, in a brief way, exactly what we have been doing for the last thirty one days “in-country”.

 During the month of March, HMM-364 flew 1107 combat hours in support of the steadfast ground Marines engaging the enemy in northern I Corp area.  Specifically our primary mission has been the resupply of food, water, ammunition, medical supplies, and even mail to the courageous troops at Khe Sanh and its surrounding hilltop outposts.  The effort required to meet such a commitment is being met with enthusiasm by the Squadron.  Pilots and crews are supported around the clock by the hard working maintenance and logistics personnel.  Teamwork, a necessity in Marine Aviation, is exactly what “keeps them flying”.

 At this writing, for the thirty fifth consecutive day, the “Super Gaggle” (as we’ve recently been dubbed) continues to pour this valuable cargo into the outpost, in many cases providing our Marines their only link with the outside world.  On a few occasions the crewman have lowered soft drinks, donated by the men in the squadron, to the men on the ground so that they might show in some way our appreciation fo the job they are doing.  Their gratitude is payment enough for this token gesture of empathy on our part.

 Phu Bai in the spring is a sight to behold.  The monsoon mud has dried and turned to re powder, and the overcast skies have been replaced with a scorching sun.  Any slight wing sends a cloud of dust covering everything.  Obviously, Holiday magazine and Conrad Hilton are not surveying this area for any kind of future spa – that is unless a decent golf course could be made out of 150 miles of solid sand trap.

 Besides the change in weather, March has ben another month highlighted by change and growth for us as a Squadron.  We again have a number of new Purple Foxes in our midst.  Welcome aboard to Captains Dean DAVIDGE, Bob FEENEY, Rich KECKLER, Ed SCHRIBER, Gordy SMITH, and Dick SPOHN; First Lieutenants Bill CHOATE and Mike DAVIS; Second Lieutenants Jim BYRNES and Larry JIVIDEN; SSgt Ken BRIDGEMAN; Cpl Bill WILSON; LCpl’s Mario SANCHEZ and Tom WOLF; and PFC George WHARTON.  I sincerely hope your adjustment period and tour with HMM-364 will be enjoyable.

 The only sad part about new men checking into the Squadron, is that they most often must replace people who are leaving us for other assignments.  In this case, we are losing a great many officers and men who have been with 364 since its very beginning back in May of 1967, and these same have given so much toward the success of this Squadron.  They are: Captains Jerry BREWSTER, Rocky DARGER, Al DAVIS, Larry GABLE, and Randy EAKIN; Second Lieutenants George McPHERSON and Bill RING; SSgt’s Tom MACDONALD and Ed MAGEE; Cpl’s Joe CAPUANO, Dave CROSS, Jim HARDY, Royce MERKLEY, Larry MISIORSKI, and Rick STEINBRUEKER.  I can only say that I’m sure you men will all be as big an asset to your new outfits has you have been to HMM-364.  Good Luck to you all.

 The only promotion this month went to SSgt Larry BRANTNER who is now GySgt Jim BRANTNER, best of luck “Gunny”.  A promotion of sorts has been three of our senior co-pilots; Captains Phil HEMMING, Gary MONK, and Trev SARLES.  All were recently made Helicopter Aircraft Commanders (HAC), and are to be congratulated for their perseverance in attaining such a goal.  No longer co-pilots, it’s now their turn to accept the responsibility for the care and safety of their aircraft – and a much sought after responsibility indeed.

 Cpl Caril FRANKLIN has been awarded an in-country R&R for his outstanding service as Crew Chief of the Month.  This award was given to him primarily on the basis of pilot, line officer, line chief, and section leader evaluation.  These all found Cpl. FRANKLIN to be extremely capable and knowledgeable in his work as an aviation Crew Chief.  Also this month, five of our men; Capt Phil HEMMING, 1stLt Emmett CARSON, Cpl’s Dave CROSS, Ed JAMES and Larry IGL, were awarded Purple Hearts for wounds received in action.  Fortunately, none of the Foxes were wounded seriously and only Lt CARSON and Cpl JAMES required hospitalization.  Both are soon to be recovered and released for duty.

 Special congratulations go to Capt Vic DeMARLA and 1stLt Ray KENTNER for joining the swelling ranks of the AIRPOLPFA (Assistant in the Production of Little Purple Foxes Association)!  Little (7 lb – 12 oz) George Raymond KENTNER (born March 29) and (5 lb – 13 oz) Terry Anne DEMARLA (born March 16) should be proud of how rapidly their respective fathers are recovering from the shock of having one more mouth to feed.  We would also like to congratulate Major Dave FRISKE, formerly a member of HMM-364, on the birth of his new son born March fourteenth.

Our men are continuing to broaden their horizons and empty their wallets in tours of South East Asia, Japan, and Australia, through the monthly R&R assignments.  Aside from your letters, it’s probably the highest priority on everyone’s self-morale building program.  We at 364 hope that both will continue in abundance.

 Speaking of home, keep up the good work!  Your letters, packages, tape recordings, and pictures are what keep us going.  I’m sure you all realize how much we appreciate and need your support and confidence, but I’ll say it again.  Thank you all for your gratifying devotion.

      L.A. Gulling
      Lt Col USMC

Submitted by:
    Dean Cohoon, former Sgt. USMC

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