LtCol. Dobratz's Letter to Parents/Wives

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

6 June 1968

Dear (Parent/Wife)

 Another busy month has quickly passed into history for the Purple Foxes of HMM-364.  It has been a month of change and challenge to all of us, bringing new quarters, a wide assortment of missions, new promotions and decorations and new personnel.  But to each of us, it means we are one month closer to our homes and families.

Our standard of living is continually improving at Phu Bai.  We are currently repositioning from our wooden “hootches” to to the newly constructed quonset huts.  This move was preceded by many early morning and late afternoon “sandbagging missions” in order to build new blast walls and bunkers but we are confident that all those extra hours will prove to be well worth our efforts.  The new enlisted club has been in operation for two months and May marked the completion of the elaborate Staff Non-Commissioned officers club.  We still have hopes for a new Officers Club which is due to be constructed in the near future.

 Our H-46’s participated in several operations during May.  Operations in the vicinity of the Khe Sanh combat base continued to require the support of the Purple Foxes, as well as operations South and Southwest of Da Nang.  The HMM-364 Purple Fox insignia was seen by delighted troops throughout the I Corps area, from Chu Lai to the DMZ, as the Squadron flew 909 combat flight hours on 607 flights.  The grinning fox on our tail pylon was a welcome sight to all Marines as the squadron fulfilled a myriad of missions.  The majority of our missions involved resupply of food, ammunition, and water, and in at least one instance, the delivery of fresh ice cream!  The morale of Marines in the field was boosted as our squadron MEDEVAC aircraft rapidly moved their wounded comrades to secure hospital facilities behind the front lines.  Replacement troops were a welcome sight to the weary ground forces, as we helped strengthen positions throughout the I Corps.

 The administration offices of our squadron were kept busy this month as we welcomed new additions and said goodbye to several transfers.  We heartily welcome aboard First Lieutenants John BRENNAN, Ross McDONALD, Dave PARVIN, Jay LARUE, and Dave HUNDLEY;  Staff Sergeant Marv GIST;  Corporal Jack Campbell; Lance Corporals Bill DOERNING, Terry HERSHBERGER, Jr., and Jim JORDON; and Private First Class Ted DONAHUE and George STRINE III.  I know these men will adjust rapidly to their new surroundings and have an enjoyable tour with HMM-364.  Naturally as the squadron takes on new men, the talents of our more experienced personnel are needed elsewhere within the Group, while others have departed for home.  Corporal Bill ROBERTS left for the States this month after spending 27 months in Viet Nam!  Sergeant Norman FLOWERS also went Stateside with 19 months of overseas duty behind him.  Others leaving our ranks were Captain Gordy SMITH;  Staff Sergeant Gene RAND; Sergeant Bob BARKER; Corporals Rick AUSTIN, Pat WHITE, and Bob BEAUCHAMP; and Private First Class Cliff HOWARD.  I would like to thank those men for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in their new billets.  Lance Corporal Jerry GILREATH also left us temporarily.  He extended his tour in Viet Nam for six months, and was awarded thirty days special leave in France, where he is presently touring museums and enjoying other aspects of the French culture.  We are also proud of Gunnery Sergeant J.W. BRANTNER who re-enlisted during the month of May.

 We are all wishing a speedy recover for Major John CHANCEY for wounds received recently in operations near Phu Bai.

 Second Lieutenant Pete DUNEV made it back from survival school this month and on his return was awarded the silver bars of First Lieutenant.  Our additional congratulations go to Lance Corporal Marion JEFFERSON and Arden BRUSH on their promotion to Corporal; and Privates First Class, Steve DOMZALSKI, Ted DONAHUE, and Don WILCOX Jr., who picked up the crossed rifles signifying their new rank of Lance Corporal.  We know these men will be a credit to their new rank and we extend our heartiest congratulations.

 The Presidential Unit Citation was conferred during the month of May to the 26th Marines, who held the Khe Sanh combat base during the 77 day siege.  It was also extended to include most of the HMM-364 personnel who flew daily to Khe Sanh in support of these Marines and their gallant stand.  We are proud to accept this award, and I certainly thank all of our personnel who so unselfishly helped us earn it.  As Commanding Officer, it was also my privilege to award 58 sets of Combat Air Crewman Wings to our crew chiefs and gunners for their meritorious service in the preceding months.

 Eleven men made it fro co-pilot to Helicopter Aircraft Commander this month.  The HAC takes full responsibility for the safety of his aircraft and crew, and works and studies hard to earn this coveted position.  It was my privilege to award HAC papers to the following Officers:  Captains Dean DAVIDGE, Bob FEENEY, Sid GALE, Earnie KUN, Earl MOORE, and Ed SCHRIBER;  First Lieutenants Jim BYRNES, Mike DAVIS, Gary GARD, and Emmett CARSON,  and Second Lieutenant Carl Stoehr II.  Flying in Viet Nam is a big responsibility, and I know these men will live up to the professional standards we maintain in HMM-364.  Captain Gary MONK is also moving up the ladder of professionalism, as signified by his recent designation as a test pilot.

 Corporal Rick BARTON has been chosen as Crew Chief of the Month, and will be awarded with an in-country R & R, or a trip to JEST school in the Philippines.  Rick’s knowledge of the aircraft, as well as his ability to keep it in a flying status, helped him earn this much sought-after award.

 The postman has been kind to all of us this month, and we thank you for the loyal support that we need so much.  Morale is high in our squadron, but only because of the letters, tapes, pictures, and packages that we receive from our loved ones at home.  Keep up the good work and may God bless you all.

     J.R. DOBBRATZ Jr.

Submitted by:
    Dean Cohoon, former Sgt USMC

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