MacDill AFB, Fla., Nov. 8, 2017 — Vietnam era Marines and their spouses from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 225 visited MacDill Air Force Base and U. S. Central Command headquarters during a reunion, November 3, 2017.
The visit was an opportunity for the Marines to observe portions of today’s modern military, while reflecting on their own time spent in service.
“Being here is just like being in the military again, when we were young and we thought we were immortal,” said Rich Lee, a VMA-225 Marine, who organized the reunion.
The visit to the base included a Central Command area of responsibility briefing, and question and answer session presented by a USCENTCOM Marine Corps officer.
“It [the briefing] really described the relationships we have, and how we work with other countries in the area,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col (Ret.) Frank Buethe. “It was very informative.”
The VMA-225 mission (1965-1971)
VMA-225 provided air support for allied ground forces in Vietnam between 1965 and 1971.
The squadron deployed from Cherry Point, North Carolina to Chu Lai, Vietnam in 1965, where Marines flew Douglas A4 Skyhawks in combat missions over South Vietnam.
The first combat mission was flown from Chu Lai Air Base on June 1, 1965 by U.S. Marine Corps Lt Col R. W. Baker, Commanding Officer of VMA-225. The aircraft took off using jet-assisted takeoff rockets on the partially completed runway.
The runway on Chu Lai was originally a “short airfield for tactical support (SATS)” made of lightweight aluminum, employing a catapult and a carrier deck-type arresting gear. This construction was necessitated by the soft sandy terrain.
Five weeks after arriving in Vietnam VMA-225, along with VMA 311, logged over 800 combat sorties. In July 1965, U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt Conrad “Ham” Hamilton made the 1000th mobile arresting gear landing (MOREST) at Chu Lai.
VMA-225 returned to Cherry Point in October 1965, and then redeployed in January 1969, to Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam to provide close air and deep air support for allied ground forces in the South Vietnam area until May 1971.
Marine Attack Squadron 225 was commissioned Jan. 1, 1943, and deactivated on June 15, 1972.