The U.S. Air Force Officers Club, Da Nang
Welcomes Marines Back

PrologueBefore all military services of the United States became "Kinder and Gentler Forces", the Commanding Officers of  Marine Corps units demanded that when Marines worked (or fought) they "work like Hell".  These same Commanding Officers encouraged their Marines to "play like Hell" when it was time to play.  The United States Marine Corps has never been known to do anything less.  Other fine military organizations of the United States did not understand Marines and their dedication to both "work" and "play".

When HMM-364 arrived at Da Nang there was a small elite and "hush hush" group of Air Force personnel at a small compound on the field.  There was a Geneva Convention restriction which, at least outwardly, should have restricted the operations they were undertaking.  This however is not the story.  As all Marines know, if you want the best housing, clubs, living quarters and special services, you find them with any service other than the Marine Corps.  After all, the Marine Corps is a branch of the U.S. Navy and any money left over from the Navy's "Appropriated Funds" is trickled down to the Marine Corps.  For this reason the phrase, "We have done so much for so long with so little, we can do the impossible with nothing" has become one of the Marine Corps' many trade marks.

The Marines of HMM-364 had their "clubs", both officer and enlisted.  The Marine officers club left much to be desired in-as-much as it was a structure with a dirt floor, in fact it was a pretty rotten place.  On the other hand, the Air Force officers club was pristine in nature by comparison.  Naturally then, the "Yankee Kilo" (tactical call sign of HMM-364) officers started frequenting the Air Force officers club.

After one boisterous night or two, the Commanding Officer of the Air Force's unit supporting base facilities sent word over to LtCol. LaVoy indicating that his Marines were no longer welcome in his club. This proclamation incensed one of HMM-364's officers, Capt. Peter A. Love, who was certified to practice law in the state of California.  Capt. Love decided he was going to research the regulations to determine if the Air Force could legally bar the officers and gentlemen of the Marine Corps from their club.  His research was short-lived because a few days latter HMM-364 had the search and rescue (SAR) mission for all of I Corps.  On this evening one of the Air Force 0-1 spotter planes went down (it was a very dark rainy night with low clouds and poor visibility).  The Air Force duty officer called HMM-364's duty officer and excitedly gave him the details and geographic coordinates of the downed pilot.  He further stated they were in constant communication with him and that he was OK.  He urged The Yankee Kilo Marines to launch into the black obis to bring the Air Force pilot back to Da Nang.  (The existing weather and associated forward visibility conditions of this evening would only warrant launching under emergency conditions i.e. the pilot was seriously injured or was in grave  danger of being captured by enemy forces).

The Yankee Kilo Operations Duty Officer (ODO) this evening was 1stLt. Richard P. L. "Bull" Bland.  Bull knew the situation and tactical requirements of this incident did not warrant placing the crews of two HU-34s and their Army gun ship escorts in extreme danger under the prevailing weather conditions.  Bull did not refresh the Air Force caller's attention to these facts, but rather Bull saw an opening, a chink in the Air Force armor.  Bull replied, "Screw him".  After a long silence the Air Force caller said, "What do you mean, screw him?"  Bull replied, "If I'm not good enough to drink with the son of a bitch, I'm not going to break my ass, or that of my air crews, getting him out on a night like this."

At first light the following morning, a couple of UH-34's picked up the Air Force pilot who was wet and tired but otherwise in fine condition.  Later that day LtCol. LaVoy received word that his Marines were welcome back at the Air Force club.

Richard P. L. "Bull" Bland spent 30 years in the Corps and retired as a  full Colonel.

More Quotes Relative to Funding the Marine Corps

From the latrine wall, Freedom Hill Transit Barracks, Da Nang, Vietnam: "We have done so much with so little for so long, we can do anything but weld the crack of dawn."

Information provided by:
    Jim Nugent, former 1stLt. USMCR
    Dean "Kahuna" Cohoon, former Sgt. USMC