PRELUDEWhile attempting to establish a definitive date for the birth of "The Purple Foxes" your Webmaster has discovered that our logo evolved over several years and on the soil of at least three or four countries to include Mexico, the United States, the Philippine Islands, the Republic of South Vietnam and now Iraq. Further, it has been determined that there were a few times when the logo's continued existence was in a precarious status. The following submissions are presented in chronological order as recalled by the Marines of HMM-364.
Our squadron patch remained the same but, I recall when some of us adopted the name of "Purple Foxes" for the squadron. In late 1963, when we were gearing up to go to WestPac and on to Vietnam from Okinawa, a number of the pilots and troops were going to Tiajuana, Mexico and they found a watering hole there named the Purple Fox. We were quite taken with the place and wanted to take something of it with us, so we adopted the name. It was not until the mid 60's though that it became legendary. We were not looking to build legends but rather to survive and get everyone home in one piece. I was fortunate, or unfortunate, to have had two tours in Vietnam in the same squadron. After the '64 tour, the personnel of the squadron were broken up and sent to their respective new duty stations back in the States or home. Many of the crew chiefs and mechanics were assigned to sunny southern California and we decided while on leave that when we checked in for duty, we would try to get back into HMM-364 which was reforming at MCAF Santa Ana. That worked out great and we had a squadron full of highly experienced Marines who having had one tour in Vietnam would probably watch the war from the sidelines. However, that was not to be and we wound up at Ky Ha, South Vietnam in the third quarter of '65. It was then that the embryonic Purple Fox began to grow. It was during this time frame that the legend was built. We didn't really do much that anyone else in Marine helicopters didn't do, but we did it with a lot of style and class.
George H. Dodds, former Sgt. USMC
W. C. (Dad) Watson,
Colonel USMC (Ret)
CO HMM-364, 7 December 1964 - June 1965
Prior to late July 1965, the squadron's mission was to remain in the States to train new pilots, known as "nuggets", as well as transition former fixed wing pilots as replacement helicopter pilots for duty in Vietnam. This all changed late in July when we were given two weeks notice to pack up and join with MAG-36 for deployment aboard the USS Princeton which was bound for Ky Ha, Republic of Vietnam. All squadron members agreed that since we were referred to as the "Purple Foxes" we could not return to Vietnam with the "Hawk" patch. Therefore 1stLt. A. L. Elmone created the "Fox" logo for the patch which, with minor alterations, is used today.
Dave Shuter, BGen. USMC (Ret)
During a deployment aboard the USS Princeton as part of the Special Landing Force, I was a Sergeant (wasn't everyone) and the NCOIC of the Metal Shop. I received permission, via the chain of command, to manufacture some stencils and paint the "Purple Fox" on the tails of our aircraft. I exceeded my authorization by also adding the "Give a Shit" slogan to the stencil. We all knew what this meant, HMM-364 really did care about the Marines transported and/or supported. The first fly in the ointment was when we flew President Marcos around the Philippines the "Powers-that-Be" made us black out the "Give a Shit". Needless to say, once the Philippine presidential support ended the "Give a Shit" reappeared.
"Ding How" and Semper Fi!
Ronald A. Knight, GySgt. USMC (Ret)
Stan M. Zenda, Maj. USMC (Ret)
1967 & 1968
When the squadron was stationed at Phu Bai they developed a patch containing the tour dates.
This picture is Cpl. John Sabol's flight jacket.
John Sabol, Jr., former Cpl. USMC
Late '70 or Early '71
The arrival of the New Year brought word that HMM-364 would be standing down and eventually deactivated. As a result the squadron started losing personnel and aircraft to MAG-16 and other units. This prompted the Marines of HMM-364 to once again redesign the squadron patch.
Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Maj. USMC (Ret)
28 September 1984 to 86
The squadron was reactivated at Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The aura and legacy the Purple Foxes had established during the Vietnam era was remembered and the Purple Fox, known as Swifty, was also resurrected. Prior to resurrecting the squadron the Modex numbers of the aircraft were preceded with Yankee Kilo (YK-12), now the Modex numbers are PF-12 etc. The phonetic alphabet would make the before mentioned aircraft be called Papa Foxtrot 12 but we all know that it really means Purple Fox 12. The name of Swifty was probably due to squadron personnel being advised that the tactical call sign of the squadron prior to being decommissioned in 1971 was Swift.
During the many deployments to Okanawa and other lacations in the far east Swifty was given a green background during the late 80's. During this era of politically correct conduct swifty was transformed into two patches. One for public use and the other for everyday ware. Can you tell which one the Marines wore most?
The squadron has continued to uphold its legacy with its deployment to Kuwait in January of 2003 and subsequent participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 20 March 2003 the squadron began flying combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In the winter of 2005, the Foxes again deployed to Al Taqaddum Airfield, Iraq for the primary mission of performing CASEVAC within the Second Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) Area of Operations (AO) in support of OIF 04-06. During the seven-month deployment the Foxes conducted 266 CASEVAC missions transporting 603 Urgent, 546 Priority, and 2623 Routine CASEVACs.
On 19 August 2006, HMM-364 main body departed Camp Pendleton in support of OIF 05-07.2. Throughout the deployment, the squadron supported Marines, soldiers, sailors, and our coalition partners with the “number one cannot fail” mission of OIF by maintaining a 30-minute alert status for CASEVAC, in addition to supporting other general support missions and VIP movements. By the end of the deployment, the squadron flew 6,373 hours lifting 25,516 passengers and 986,332 pounds of cargo. Included in these numbers were 715 Urgent, 187 Priority and 1317 Routine medical patients. The Foxes returned to Camp Pendleton on 13 March 2007.
The squadron’s main body departed Camp Pendleton on 10 March 2008 and arrived at Al Taqaddum, Iraq shortly after in support of OIF 08.1. We are still working and there will be more to follow.