At the height of the Chinese allegations of the 3rd Bomb Wing at Kunsan dropping bacteriological weapons on North Korea and China, another flyer "confessed" to this crime. This time it was a Marine Colonel who accused the VMF(N)-513 of also participating in bacteriological warfare. His "confession" and another's were distributed by the Communists to U.N. delegates in February 1953.
What makes this a truely tragic tale is that Colonel Schwable was considered one of the "fathers of Marine nightfighting." He had trained with the RAF in 1943 and was the Commanding Officer of the first night fighter squadron, the VMF(N)-531 flying PV-1s out of Guadalcanal. At Guadacanal Schwable and his gunner shot down four planes. The kill is split .5 and.5, so in the record books each will show two kills. Remember they were flying PV-1s which had a top turret and crew of three.
In the bookIn Mortal Combat - Korea, 1950-1953by John Toland (pp551-552) it states, "Among the prisoners spending a most miserable Christmas holiday were two Marine officers: Colonel Frank Schwable, chief of staff of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and Major Roy Bley, ordnance officer of the wing. In July, they had been inadvertently flown over enemy lines on an administrative flight in a Beechcraft and were hit by fighters. Their motor quit and they parachuted to safety." Col. Schwable was captured by North Korea on July 8, 1952.
The book continues, "The Chinese knew they had captured a prize because Schwable, a veteran of sixty-five night missions in World War II and winner of four distinguished Flying Crosses, was in uniform and carried his armed services identification card, a Virginia driver's license, a flight instrument ticket, pictures of his family, and a copy of his flight plan. For months he was kept in solitary confinement in a filthy lean-to under the eaves of a Korean house. The forty-four-year-old Schwable was harried, accused of being a war criminal, fed little, denied proper latrine privileges, refused medical attention, and subjected to extremes of heat and cold. Except for a "two-week thinking period," he was intensely interrogated, although he was never beaten. Finally, at the end of December, after intimidation and dire threats, the senior UN prisoner after General Dean finally submitted a confession that suited the Communists."
"In making my most difficult decision to seek the only way out," Schwable later wrote, "my primary consideration was that I would be of greater value to my country in exposing this hideous means of slanderous propaganda than I would be by sacrificing my life through non-submission or remaining a prisoner of the Chinese Communists for life, a matter over which they left me no doubt."
Major Bley also finally crumbled under the strain of even more intense treatment. Colonel Schwable signed the "confession" on either January 21, 1953 or December 6, 1952; and broadcast his "confession" to the world in February 1953. He was photographed reading the final copy. The book continues, "His confession cleverly combined battle data and technical-sounding terminology that gave it authenticity. ... Together with Bley's confession, it was a masterly coup for the Communists, since the General Assembly of the United Nations was scheduled to reconvene two days later; these two important confessions were then circulated among the delegates."
Steamshovel, a magazine specializing in sensationalism, has a webpage with the coerced confession ofColonel Frank H. Schwable. It states that he was "a US pilot captured by the Koreans during the Korean War who confessed to his role in a bacteriological warfare project that utilized populations of germ-infested flies and mosquitos dropped on the enemy in bombs, replete with miniature parachutes." The site goes on to offer a disclaimer: "The story has another angle, however. It might have been coerced from Schwable under Korean brainwashing torture. Other airman captured during the Korean War claimed that similar "confessions" were forced from them."
In his statement, he alleges that the biological attacks were carried out in secrecy by the Marine VMF(N)-513 from Kunsan (K-8)...but that the 3d BW "B-26s had already begun bacteriological operations." He alleged, "Towards the end of January 1952, Marine night fighters of Squadron 513, operating as single planes on night armed reconnaissance, and carrying bacteriological bombs, shared targets with the B-26s covering the lower half of North Korea with the greatest emphasis on the western portion. Squadron 513 coordinated with the Third Bomb Wing on all these missions, using F7F aircraft (Tiger Cats) because of their twin engine safety. K8 (Kunsan) offered the advantage of take-off directly over the water, in the event of engine failure, and both the safety and security of over-water flights to enemy territory. For security reasons, no information on the types of bacteria being used was given to the First Marine Aircraft Wing."
It goes on to allege that commanders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- all the way down the chain -- were verbally ordered to conduct these missions to spread cholera, yellow-fever and typhus -- and unbelievably no one raised their voice in protest. That's why this "confession" is easily discounted. Another reason to doubt this "confession" is that the VMF(N)-513 did not arrive at Kunsan until April 1952 (or later) -- though the bombing was alleged to have started in January 1952 by the VMF(N)-513 from Kunsan. In addition, it should also be noted that the VMF(N)-513s F7Fs were committed at the time to providing night air cover for the B-29 Superfortress starting in July 1952 -- and continued this mission throughout the summer of 1952. It is highly improbable that they could have done these "secret" missions in addition to its night air cover role. And to drop "germ-infested flies and mosquitoes" during the frigid Korean winter months is lunacy.
Other high-ranking POWs also confessed to these "crimes", including Col. Walker "Bud" Mahurin, USAF World War II ace. These individuals found their military careers ended when they returned to the states. As to Schwable, he was not disciplined upon return and he was restored to duty. However, his career was through. Anti-American activists in Korea and other parts of the world have used these types of "confessions" -- along with the Chinese "scientific proof" -- to keep this issue alive today.
Go toGerm Warfarein the 8th Bomb Squadron page for the complete details of the coerced "confessions" by other POWs, false "evidence" -- and finally the admittal by the Soviets that the allegations were based of "misinformation" from North Korea.
Departure from Kunsan for K-6:
The Move to K-6:VMF(N)-513 remained at Kunsan until June 6, 1953 when they moved to Pyongtaek (K-6). However, In the Jan 1996 Marine Night Fighter Association (MNFA) Newsletter, then Lt.Col. Dave Severance recounts that the move took place physically on June 1, 1953. He said, "Col. Hutchinson had promised the Wing Commander (1st MAW) that the squadron would make the move without any loss of missions. ... With the amount of radar gear to keep functioning and with two engines to maintain on the F3Ds, turn-around times were sometimes delayed for a day or more. To meet our commitment most of the aircraft flying missions the night of 31 May would have to land at K-6 and require little or no maintenance. The plan was for all the test benches to be unplugged at K-8 early on the morning of 1 June, move them by C-117s (I think that was the "flying boxcar" designation) and plug them into preconstructed electronic bays at K-6. Other transports were to move the remaining materiel and personnel."
Loading C-119 for Move to K-6. (June 1, 1953)
(Courtesy Jack Kio)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Dave Severance continued, "VMF(N)-513 was commited to fly their all-weather missions whenever there was atleast one field in Korea predicted to be at or above minimum conditions for aircraft landings, and visibility was sufficient for takeoff at K-8. During my 9 months with the squadron, I recall only one night we could not fly...that was the night of 31 May. Every field in Korea was socked in with fog. That meant that on the morning of 1 June our planes were ready for a mission. All we had to do was "gently" lift them off for a short flight to K-6, "tenderly" set them down on the new runway...and we were ready to meet our commitments the night of 1 June. Thanks to a bad break in the weather we were assured of meeting Col. Hutchinson's promise not to miss a mission on the move to K-6!"
Bullion-Kunsan (K-8) - Pyongtaek (K-6)
Click on patch to enlarge
Courtesy of Eugene "Mule" Holmberg
Ron Stout added about the way Marines move, "All of a Marine squadron's gear is kept packaged for rapid movement. That's what allowed us to accomplish the move from K-8 to K-6 without having to stand down from our mission during the move."
This move from Kunsan was not a spur of the moment "bugout" or because the unit was "kicked off the base by the Base Commander" as one rumor goes. It was a planned move that made sense for a multitude of reasons. However, the plan might have been accelerated because of the growing friction between the USAF leadership at Kunsan and the Marines. Jack Kio remembered, "We and the Air Force didn't get along very good. A short time after we got there with the F3Ds our officers were asked to stay out of the officers club, the staff nco were told to stay out of the staff club and the enlisted club didn't want us. Looking back on it I think it was more our fault then the Air Force, we were not good guests."
Ron Stout said, "the Air Force engineers hurriedly built us a nice new 10,000 foot concrete runway at K-6 (Pyongtaek). Unfortunately they laid the concrete in winter time so that in the spring frost heave caused a large hummock to appear at mid point. That hummock made our night take-offs a very exciting proposition since it could tear the nose wheel off our plane if we hit it in the three point position." A minor correction, the Air Force had no Engineers. The folks he speaks of were the 841st Engineer Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF). "SCARWAF" means "Special Category ARmy With Air Force." This unit would later replace the 808th EAB maintained the runway at Kunsan. (NOTE: In the Jan 1996 Marine Night Fighter Association (MNFA) Newsletter, then Lt.Col. Dave Severance remembers the new strip as 5,000 feet.)
From Ron's statement we see that the 841st EAB (out of Osan AB) had built this runway over the "winter" and they moved in April. This indicates that the move was NOT a snap decision -- but a planned move. The Marines needed a longer runway for its F3D-2 Skyknight to support the new escort mission role for the B-29s. The Korean War was the first prolonged experience with the runway requirements of jet aircraft in war. The need for long, reinforced concrete runways resulted in inflexibility in air basing, with major impacts on air operations and requirements for aviation engineers to build and maintain suitable runways. It was difficult to share a runway with so many other units at Kunsan.
Second, the runway at Kunsan was in very poor condition -- and getting worse. The taxiways were described as "tar holes". It was one of the reasons that the 474th Fighter Bomber Wing (FBW) lost one of its squadrons to Taegu during the very confusing FEAF fighter-bomber reorganization plan of March 1953. In April 1953, the 474th FBW was redesignated as the 49th FBW and reduced to only two F-84E/G squadrons. Though the runway had just undergone major repairs in March-June 1952, it was deteriorating again by the spring of 1953. One F-84 aviator noted that Kunsan was the only place he had ever landed on HALF a runway as the graders & rollers were working on the other half.
Third, the move would cluster Marine shore-based aviation units together and ease maintenance and logistics problems. K-6 (Pyongtaek Airfield), at the present day site of Camp Humphreys, was originally constructed by the Japanese. However, the 931st Engineer Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF) repaired and built a new runway to accommodate the VMA-121, MAG-12 (flying the AD Skyraider) and the 6147th Tactical Control Group (flying the T-6 Mosquito as FACs). The VMA-121 "Green Knights" had been deployed to Pyongtaek (K-6) since mid-1951 to conduct strike missions in support of infantry operations. Flying missions as long as 14 hours, the AD Skyraider became the "Heavy Haulers" who could carry 9000 pounds of ordnance and drop them with high accuracy. The squadron dropped more bomb tonnage during the Korean War than any other Navy or Marine Corps squadron, devastating enemy airfields, supply dumps, bridges, and railroad yards. It would be sensible to cluster shore-based Marine units together.
Fourth, in 1953 the conflict had become one of trench warfare along a stalemated front. There was savage fighting for pieces of worthless real estate. In addition, details of the truce were being ironed out at Panumjon, but negotiations kept dragging on. By March 1953, the 28,000 Marines along the front expected another Chinese push and tensions ran high. Therefore, moving the night fighter unit closer to the front would seem reasonable. The Chinese push came in June 1953 causing the U.N. forces 50,000 casualties from the Chinese attacks -- mostly ROKs.
Fifth, a night jet interceptor was required nearer to the front. The F-94s had proven to be totally inadequate. The 319th FIS had been posted on strip alert at Suwon at the end of 1951 in case any enemy night intruders came South. Unfortunately the problem-plagued F-94A had a radar that you weren't sure if it would still be working a minute later. After the lackluster experiences with the F-94B in combat -- especially after the mid-air collision in 1953 proving the unreliability of its radar -- I would think that some planners might feel that it would be wiser to move the only other jet night fighter (the F3D-2) in the theater up closer to the front just in case enemy jet night intruders should come South. At the same time this would provide F4U-5Ns for the slower "Bedcheck Charlie". This line of reasoning is validated by the fact that four F4U-5N Corsairs from TF-77 were permanently shore-based at Kimpo under 5AF in June 1953 to counter slower prop-driven night intruder threats.
For these reasons, it would make sense to move the F3D-2 closer to the front lines for night air interdiction, ground support, backup for night CAS -- and its new mission of escorting the B-29s over the north. However, the growing friction between the Marines and the USAF leadership at Kunsan probably speeded up the process considerably.
Flying Operations at K-6:One story of flying at Pyongtaek is told in "Anecdotes of the VMF(N)-513, The Flying Nightmares", Flight Journal (June 1998), by Joe Rychetnik. Joe relates the tale of Frank Wilson, who recalled hunter-killer flights up and over the 38th Parallel, seeking out enemy aircraft that were violating the terms of the cease-fire. One night, a team flying from K-6 (Pyong Taek) discovered a radar target ahead, flew up close to the large bomber and dismissed it as a wandering B-29. To embarrass the Air Force pilot, the F3D pilot put on an airshow of barrel rolls and other antics in front of the plane before returning to base. On landing he learned there were no B-29s in the air, and he had missed a chance to down a Russian bomber! His C.O. glued to a desk, flipping aircraft ID cards for eight hours a day, in the dark, for two weeks." (NOTE: In the Jan 1996 Marine Night Fighter Association (MNFA) Newsletter the bomber is identified as a Yak and the C.O. who levied the punishment on the showboating pilot was Col. O'Connor.)
In Air Power, January 1986, it tells of the Navy coming to "assist" the Marines at Pyongtaek. The article says, "The most interesting cruise was that of Detachment 44N commanded by Jerry O'Rourke in 1953 aboard the USS Lake Champlain (CVA-39). The "Champ" left on an east coast deployment to Korea. As Jerry O'Rourke related. "We got there via Athens, Aden, Colombo, Ceylon and Yokosuka - one or two days in each port and lots and lots of steaming. We were immediately sent on the line two days after our arrival in Japan. On the line, we tried to do the night fighter job, but the bosses didn't want us to fy at night (ruined the movies on the hangar deck) and, besides, there were no Commie aircraft up at night anyway and that's the Air Force's job! So we tried day time combat air patrol, bombing reconnaissance, anything to justify our large size and peculiar catapult characteristics."
The article continues, "I had heard about VMF(N)-513 being ashore at K-6 ( Pyongtaek) and once I began to understand that the Navy really didn't want us aboard. I pushed and pushed to be sent ashore with the Marines. We finally were sent the orders and started flying combat with 513 the next night."
Life at K-6: Ron Stout related an anecdote about the Air Force at K-6. He said, "The Air Force had an officers club at K-6 that our pilots regarded as much more plush than their own which was abuilding at the time and pretty raw. So when the Air Force lads extended an invitation for our squadron officers to join them in a get-together they accepted with alacrity. A few days later our C.O. received a letter from the AF engineers C.O. accusing our folks of not being true officers and gentleman because after their visit several decorative items and some paintings were discovered to be missing from the AF club."
He added, "I don't know what our C.O. 's response to this vile canard was, but our officers club looked a lot less raw and undecorated after the soiree with the addition of several new decor items." To the Marines it was a "tradition" to "capture" a prize from another Service. The USAF considered it "thievery."
Before you say, "tsk...tsk" about this theft. Listen to what Paul Noel, Col, USMC (Ret) said about this story. "A major sin is to steal from another Marine or Marine unit --- although the latter has eased when aviation squadrons 'confiscate' momentoes from sister squadrons. To steal from another Armed Service, especially in a forward area, is a Marine avocation!!!!! Extra points if it is Navy!!!!" ... One time at K-6, I and several other officers went with the Group XO in his sedan and made off with a framed picture, probably a naked babe, from the local K-6 USAF unit O Club. This was more like a retaliation fraternity prank, although the Air Force folks did not see it that way." He continued, "The key is Marines do not steal from anyone for themselves personally -- but OK for the good of the unit --- as long as it is not from another Marine unit. Some where there would be a brother being hung out to dry. This is tradition and ancient history, but you will not find it written in an official document. Today? I hope the same."
Ron Stout then continued on about the vehicle situation at K-6. "Marines were always envious of the Air Force's seemingly endless supply of convenience items,not the least of which were what seemed to be a jeep for every airman who wanted one. Our squadron had a jeep for the C.O. and one for the exec or ops officer and both were WW II types that were badly worn."
He went on, "After we moved to K-6 and observed the AF's impressive supply of vehicles, there suddenly appeared freshly painted jeeps that happened to bear the serial number's of squadron personnel on the hood in place of the usual inventory number." He added, "Squadron lore had it that when we turned in our WW II vehicles for replacement by the Korean era vehicles. 513 had 15 jeeps in inventory, one weapons carrier (authorized), and four 6 X 6's as opposed to the T.O. authorized 2."
Paul Noel commented about this war-time practice of "boring" jeeps, "Stealing jeeps got so bad (short term) that driver would remove the rotor from the distributor when the jeep was parked. Not to be snookered, we carried a rotor in our pocket, took the jeep, and eventually abandoned it (after removing the rotor for future use.) I had a maintenance group that set a record of 30 min flat to 'liberate' a jeep trailer from the Navy, repaint in MarCorps green, stencil on new numbers, and have back up paper work."
Ron added finally, "The ongoing generosity of the Air Force lads who ran our base was greatly appreciated and made our lives much more comfortable. I hope it didn't inconvenience them too much." We're quite sure that the Air Force officers who "lost" their vehicles were glad to oblige. Right...and the tooth fairy wears combat boots.
Ron also commented on the how the NCO and Officers Clubs were built. He said, "In the same vein as the borrowing habits of the Marines was the "bargaining" within and between ranks. In some instances officers and enlisted troops would want a favor from one another that didn't fall within the definition of "military" so that whatever was wanted from the other had to be negotiated as a favor. When 513 moved to K-6 the enlisted and officers clubs were at mainside, an inconvenient walk at night when we needed to relax from the rigors of the day or after night missions." He added, "The officers and enlisted troops of 513 secured lumber and whatnot to build an officers club and an E club but the officers didn't have enough manpower to get their club built in a hurry. Negotiations were begun and eventually agreeement was reached on terms favorable to each side." He continued, "The enlisted troops found out that a Captain (pilot) was an expert stone mason in civilian life.In an exchange the captain would build a fine stone fireplace for the enlisted mens club and "volunteer" enlisted troops would show up to help build the officers club. Today,if anyone at Camp Humphreys wonders how that shack that served as the peons club happened to have such a magnificient stone fireplace, they can thank a Marine captain who's name escapes me and the two poker losers who feverishly pitched mud for him."
He added, "As an aside. One of the smartest moves the enlisted men of 513 made was getting our premiere poker player Corporal Bill Knoerr appointed to co-manage the "E" club. Due to an earlier indescretion Knoerr had to live on $7 a month pay. However, his poker skills were such that he was able to supplement his pay and live a normal life. His poker skills also translated into a bargaining ability that allowed our club to be both comfortable and prosperous during Knoerrs tenure as co-manager with Roy "Moose" Simolin." Ron went on, "After watching my friend Knoerr in action,however, I vowed never to play poker against him in my life.I've kept that promise all these years. Knoerr parlayed his skills into a job at Eastern Air Lines from where he retired as an L-1011 senior captain."
They remained at Pyongtaek (K-6) until March 1955 when the unit moved to Atsugi NAS, Japan.
Life After Korea:
In mid-1955, the VMF(N)-513 moved to Atsugi NAS, Japan. Eugene "Mule" Holmberg wrote, "By the way according to my log book VMF(N)-513 departed K-6 in March 1955 for Atsugi Japan, arriving there in March." He added that "the abbreviation VMF(N) stood for Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron as of 1948. In 1956 the (N) was Changed to (AW) to reflect the actual designation." Ken Gates wrote, "I was at Pyong Taek, then at Atsugi, Japan when VMF(N)-513 moved there. Of course, that was all back in 1954/55." Atsugi, like Iwakuni, were former Japanese naval bases that were simply "converted" for U.S. forces use. At Atsugi NAS, the unit was redesignated the VMF(AW)-513.
Click on patch to enlarge
Patches courtesy of Eugene "Mule" Holmberg
Following a three year tour in Atsugi, Japan, the squadron returned to MCAS El Toro, and on July 26, 1958, received the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray (F6A). The F4D Skyray, a delta wing twin-jet, set new speed and time-to-climb records. The single-place F4D was, in its time, capable of higher performance than any aircraft in the Navy's inventory. The service life of the Skyray with the Navy and USMC was relatively brief, since the aircraft was specialized to the high-altitude interception role and lacked the multi-mission capability that was becoming increasingly important. The Skyray had a good climb rate, a high ceiling, a relatively high speed, and a good radar, all features which made it a good interceptor. However, it had a reputation of being a difficult plane to fly.
The squadron was redesignated VMFA-513 after Transitioning to the F-4B Phantom II. Operating out of Beaufort, SC, the unit flew the F-4B. (Note: Some sites say the VMFA-513 flew the F-4J, but the definitive J.Baugher Site disputes this.) Most F-4Bs were operated by the Navy and Marine Corps until they were converted to F-4N configuration, struck off the rolls or transferred to storage at the Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. In November 1964, the squadron deployed to Atsugi, Japan once again.
In June 1965, the "Flying Nightmares" were ordered to Da Nang to conduct operations against enemy communist forces. Gray Ghost Squadron (VMF(N)-531) POW Page talks of the fate of two VMFA-513 flyers. It says, "Flying out of Da Nang on 24 Jan 1966, Capt Albert Pitt and 2Lt. Lawrence Helber in one F4B, and Capt. Doyle Sprick & 2Lt Delmar Booze in another F4B were part of a multi-aircraft strike mission. The two aircraft disappeared shortly after striking a target over Thua Thien Province, RSVN, about 10 miles south of the city of Hue. Last contact with the aircraft was after their strike on the target. They reported that their strike had been successful. All further attempts to contact them provided no reply, all four of these men were declared Missing in Action. These men were not alone. The F-4B took an active part in the Vietnam war, mainly flying ground attack missions in support of Marine ground forces in South Vietnam. 72 Marine F-4Bs were lost in combat (one to a MiG, 65 to AAA, and six to mortar or sapper attacks on their bases) and 23 others were destroyed in operational accidents.
In 1966, the unit was at Cherry Point, North Carolina with its F4Bs. In 1971, VMA-513 was at MCAS Beaufort, S.C. and was redesignated the VMA-513 while in cadre awaiting arrival of the AV-8A Harrier. The AV-8A Harriers were received in April 1971, and the squadron began participating in a number of tests to evaluate the aircraft's potential applications within the Marine Corps. The unit became the first operational high performance V/STOL squadron in the United States. Atleast three Marine astronauts proudly claim the VMA-513 on their resumes.
(Courtesy Ken Gates)
The squadron completed a number of shipboard and foreign deployments between 1972 and 1976, when the squadron returned to the United States and was assigned to Marine Crew Combat Readiness Training Group-10 at MCAS Yuma. In 1987, VMA-513 was joined by the remainder of MAG-13, which was in the process of Transitioning to the AV-8B Harrier.
In 1990-91 the Nightmares participated in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, successfully conducting combat operations from the austere, demanding environment of Southwest Asia in support of the 15th MEU. They returned home with all of its assets without loss of life or major injury.
Click on to enlarge
Currently, the VMA-513, "The Nightmares," are part of MAG-13 based at MCAS, Yuma, Arizona. Still sporting its distinctive "WF" tail designator, it is one of the four Marine Attack Squadrons flying the AV8B Harriers. MAG-13 is under the 3d MAW based at Miramar, California. While at MCAS Yuma, VMA-513 has continued to exercise and develop fixed wing V/STOL concepts through numerous operational deployments, military exercises and flight demonstrations, as well as continuing to send six-plane detachments to the Western Pacific. VMA-513 continues a proud tradition of providing outstanding support for the Marines on the ground -- anytime, anywhere.
VMA-513 Links: An excellent website is the VMA-513 by the Commander of the VMA-513 of MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Very well-done site.
Another site is VMF-513 Site. It features the WWII logo for the unit by Walt Disney.
Kudos on Finding Information of Loved Ones: This site is about providing information, bringing together lost friends, and honoring the courageous souls who served so long ago. However, sometimes it does more...and brightens my day. The following is a sterling example of what a Marine "family" is really about.
In Sep 2000, 54-year old ex-Marine Jeff Harrington wrote:
"I have visited this site many times over the last year or so and have passed it on to other friends. My father was MSGT Julius G. "Knobby" Harrington USMC. My dad was killed in action on 12 Oct. 1951 while flying with the 513 as a Radar/Nav. Your site gave me a window to look in to see my father and the men he served with. Not much information is given out by the US Government about the lost of aircraft in war even 50 some years later. The names of the men at your site helped locate a few lost friends.
Thanks ever so much, Semper Fi
35 Bridgton Ct.
Cranston, RI 02910
He later would add: "Your site ended almost 50 years of questions for me. I was five when my Dad was killed and have only a few memories of him. His body was never recovered from the crash site. A crash site investigation has been promised for the last 4 years, but because of the political climate in North Korea things move slowly."
Ray Bourgholtzer replied: "I sent an E-mail to Jeff Harrington yesterday. Yes, I knew his father. In fact, I flew a Roadroute with his father's pilot about two weeks before they went down. His father's pilot's name was Gillette and was from the Jacksonville, FL area. He was listed as a POW and was listed as a Lt Col. The story goes that he told after beling repatriated that he told his captors that he was a LtCol because he thought he would get better treatment. He was actually a first lieutenant. We understood that he liked to hang around after relieved on station if he had ordinance left and use it up on AA positions. His father was known as "Box Top" and the story goes that while he was at Quantico in 1948, at a personnel inspection, an officer came up and tweaked his wings and remarked that they were pretty and where did he get them. He replied that for two wheaties box tops and fifty cents you could get a pair just like them. This was following the period when former warrant officers who were then MSgts were given their choice of retaining their rank and going to infantry billets or taking a reduction to TSgt and stay in their flight status. Harrington and Schoenberger were two that went to line company and Schoenberger was commissioned later and retired a Major. I think I am the only RO still alive that was there at 1 when he went in. Semper Fi!
In Mar 2005, we received the following email from David Dilberg seeking information on his father and attempt to find Ray Bourgholtzer. "Kalani, in your website on the Korean War the part about the Kunsan Airbase, there is an excerpt on page 3 that talks about my father Bud Dillberg. Ray Bourgholtzer said that he and Bud Dillberg made a belly landing on April 9 1952. He said they had one engine out for 40 minutes. I was wondering if Ray is still alive and if I could contact him. I also have this picture of their plane after they got foamed down to stop the fire. I also have some other pictures from my dad during his time in Korea. The one of them standing by the plane has on the back a name of T/SGT Bourgly with my dad. Would that be short for Bourgholtzer? Do you update the web site? My Dad told me the enemy shot up the controls for the landing gear and the release for the tank on the bottom so they had to land on the tank with no wheels. He said they lit up the runway with flames but no explosion. My dad died back in 1990 so I can't ask him about what it was like but I thought if Ray was alive I could talk to him. Do you have any suggestions? Sincerly, David Dillberg USMC / Vietnam / 67/ 68" With the assistance of Paul Noel, we were able to put the two together.
In Apr 2005, Ray Bourgholtzer wrote again: "Your web site enabled David Dillberg the son of Capt. Bud Dillberg, who was my pilot in VMF(aw) 513, to get in tounch with me. His Dad, he tells me, passed away in 1990,and he was tryhing to find out a litle about him. He had figured out that I was the RO that flew with his dad. He sent me two photos one on 8 April at K-14 and the other taken at K-1. I know that you are enjoying things over there. Maybe I will get to come over and see and meet you. Ray Bourgholtzer"
Articles on VMF(N)-513: As a sidenote an article about the VMF(N)-513 appeared inFlight Journal Magazineentitled "Anecdotes of the VMF (N) 513, The Flying Nightmares" by Joe Rychetnik "who enjoyed Korea with 513."Jon H. Richardsonwrote in theKorean War Project: "Interesting article with some nice color pix of U birds, Tigercats, and Skynights. Don't know if you can get this on the news stand or not as I have been a subscriber for some time and I can't ever recall seeing an issue on the news stand. It was in the June 1998 issue. Its anAir AgePub and the Web Page given is WWW.airage.com." (NOTE: The article cannot be accessed via the web. The link is only for the Table of Contents. Excerpts from this article dealing with K-8 or K-6 were used in this webpage by permission of Joe Rychetnik.)
VMA-513 "Flying Nightmares" Flight Sim Game: Another side note is that there is a popular Flight Sim game entitled "Flying Nightmares" based on this VMA-513 flying AV-8Bs.
Kunsan Revisited (Sep 2001):
In September 2001, Lt. Col. Cheek, USMCR (Ret) revisited Kunsan. He had served with the Marine VMF(N)-513 at Kunsan during 1952-1953. In the article, Col. Cheek recalled many humorous events such as their commander drunk and wanting to charge the flagpole to take the Air Force flag. Despite the inter-service rivalry, it was all in good humor.
Lt. Col. Cheek revisits Kunsan
Click on image to enlarge
We would have loved to talk to the Col about the VMF(N)-513 history, but we were never notified of his visit through the VMF(N)-513 veteran chain. His first-hand memories would have been a welcome addition to the pages of the VMF(N)-513. We forwarded the article on LTC Cheek's visit (Sept 2001) to VMF(N)-513 vets. The Marine vets remember him. Jim Curzon wrote that Col Cheek can be seen on the site in the photo of the unit in the front row kneeling on the right.
Our response to the article is that "time filters history." Col. Cheek related that though the Marine and Air Force displayed inter-service rivalry, it was all in good-humor. Amazing that he mentioned "all in good-humor" as of Col. LeBailley (later Lt. Gen.) banned both the Marine Officers and Staff NCOs from the Air Force clubs. He was there when they were forced to build their own Officer's club in the barracks area so he should have remembered. (NOTE: The photo of their "club" with fireplace built by their "padre" is on the VMF(N)-513 pages.) His area was in what is now the RoKAF section of the base, instead of the Gunsmoke Hill area he was shown.
Col Cheek remembered that within 30 days the Marines built a mess hall from a garage that the Japanese forces used. (NOTE: This is historically inaccurate as no Japanese structures remained at Kunsan. The Marines were assigned a broken down open hangar and some adjoining quonset huts and Jamesway buildings. This is where their mess hall was located.) He stated, "The food was so good we had to place armed guards to keep the Air Force out." As to the mess hall, Jack Kio -- then SSgt (E6) -- wrote, "I remember the mess hall a little different. Then we first got there we complained about the Air Force food. I'm not sure but as I remember it Air Force had us eat after they feed there men, maybe it was because of the trouble at the different clubs. I do know our CO wanted us to be able to get food or a cup of coffee any time we want one so our mess was open 24 hours a day. I do not remember any guards. I do remember the mess Sgt. feeding Air Force Officers late at night until one night two came in and gave him a hard time. ( they had to much tea that night). I and five or six others was in the mess hall at the time. The Lt. was telling him how he wanted his eggs and beacon cooked. I can't remember what the Sgt. said but Lt. said a'm an officer and you will do that I say. That's all it took, the Sgt. pick up phone and called APs and told them to come and get the officers out of his mess hall or we would throw them out. The APs came and that ended us feeding the Air Force Officers unless they came in with one of our officer. I think the base CO made our mess hall of limits to Air Force personal. Just like everything else it only takes one or two to spoil it for everyone."
Kunsan MIA Interred in Arlington National Cemetary
In late January 2002, a military funeral was held in Arlington National Cemetary to honor SSgt James Vaughn "Red" Harrell of the VMF(N)-513 "Flying Nightmares" who flew out of Kunsan AB (K-8) during the Korean War. The F-3D Skyknight Radar Operator and his pilot, Capt. James B. Brown, were on their way back after their mission over North Korea escorting B-29s to their target on 30 May 1953. They were about two minutes behind some other F-3Ds returning home to Kunsan after checking in, but were never heard from again. Found on a beach in Taean, his remains were interred almost 50 years after he was declared Missing in Action while attempting to return to Kunsan after a mission over North Korea. His pilot's remains have never been found.
The story began in July 2001 when some remains were discovered on a beach in Taean -- about 150 miles south of Seoul and about a 150 miles north of Kunsan. The following is the article telling of the discovery of the remains.
July 26 10:49 PM ET
Possible Remains of Soldier Found
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Korean War-era remains thought to be those of a U.S. soldier were flown to an Army laboratory in Hawaii Friday for identification, the U.S. military command in Seoul said.
A 20-minute ceremony was held in Seoul's Yongsan Garrison before the metal coffin containing the remains was sent to the airport for a journey home, said Kim Yong-kyu, a U.S. military spokesman.
The remains were found by a South Korean villager on a beach near Taean, about 155 miles southwest of Seoul, on Monday.
A U.S. dog tag, a 1951 map in English and other items found indicate that the remains belonged to a U.S. soldier killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korean officials said earlier.
The United States fought on South Korea's side in the Korean War. About 37,000 U.S. troops are still stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against communist North Korea.
These remains were later identified as those of SSgt James Vaughn "Red" Harrell of the VMF(N)-513 "Flying Nightmares" who flew out of Kunsan AB (K-8) during the Korean War. Ron Stout, former RO with the VMF(N)-513 wrote, "I was contacted by phone tonight by the grand niece (niece) of Red Harrell who notified me that his remains had been found. The identity of the recovered remains was verified by the military mortuary in Honolulu from his dental records, dog tags, and bits of his flight jacket. Red and his pilot, Captain Brown, went M.I.A. in early May of 1953 at K-8. She was a bit sketchy on details of the retrieval of Reds remains because she was told them by Reds mother via phone and his mom was, as you would expect, shattered by the news. Plans are for him to be buried at Arlington National Cemetary in Washington, D.C. in late January."
Ron continued, "I met Red when we began A.I.O. school at Cherry Point in June,1952. We went to Korea together on the 32nd overseas replacement draft in April,1953. Red was a part of a tight little group that hung around together Harold Ruddy, Frank Pershern, Gerry Marcheso, Dick Schultz, and John (Denny) Byers. Red was the jokester of the group. Strangely, my mind has always blocked out any memory of the circumstances of the loss or Red and his pilot Captain Brown.The same with the loss of Thistlewaite and Westbrook. Ron Harbison tells me that Harrell and Brown disappeared on final approach to K-8 and that squares with the fact his grand niece (niece) told me about his remains being found in sand."
David A. McClung wrote, "My wife Jimmie (niece) was notified by her mother (Red's sister) about the recovery of the remains. Jimmie's mother is the only surviving immediate family member. Jimmie's mother has a book provided by USMC when they visited her on 13 Dec 2001. ... After all these years, we are now flooded with information and for that we are thankful."
Ted and Hal Barker at the Korean War Project put out the word for others knowing Sgt. Harrell. "Honoring JAMES HARRELL Key: 12302 Casualty Date: 05/30/1953 Service Number: 1182385 Unit: 513 VMF (N) SQDN 1 MAW"
Though Kunsan AB has not issued any word or recognized this event of SSgt Harrell being interred in Arlington National Cemetary, former members of the VMF(N)-513 mobilized to pay final respects to one of their own.
Ron Stout later wrote, "An enlisted troopers funeral with two generals in attendance and a squadron representative all the way from Yuma, even though the squadron is at Nellis AFB in a serious interservice gunnery competition. If you have never seen the Washington, D.C. Marines render honors then you have missed one of life's most stirring sights. In a pouring rain not one of them so much as blinked. After the rifles volleys they presented the empty casings to the family."
Martha Richards, who Ron Stout credits as one of those who rounded up the crowd in attendance, wrote:
"...The funeral for Red was well attended by about 30 people including two Lt Gens retired, Bill Fitch and Keith Smith. I saw a LtCol USMC in the congregation, but did not meet him. There was also a Sgt of some rate which I do not recall I was told there was a retired USAF general officer there, but did not meet him. Two Gold Star Mothers there also.
Prior to the service, Martha??? from Wash Times gave each person a small American Flag. In place of service program was a handout with a picture of SSgt on the front and a family history and story of his disappearance on the inside. He was a handsome kid who was born 9 Nov 31. He's a year and a day older than I.
The service was very touching and his niece, Jimmie, gave a sweet eulogy. The day was warm and overcast. It started raining just as we left the chapel and continued through most of graveside service. I saw a CNN crew filming but no one knows when the clip might be shown.
The family gave a reception afterward which gave some of us a chance to chat. I met your friend Ron and think he is a prince. I had hoped to learn more about the fateful flight and wanted to see the info Jimmie requested from Hq USMC. The items were displayed on a small table and most of the fellows kept the papers circulating. I did not want to linger too long and never got to see them. ...
Martha Cella of the Washington Times wrote the following article on February 2, 2002 about the funeral.
Decades later, Marine returns home
By Matthew Cella
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A U.S. Marine missing since 1953 was laid to rest at long last yesterday in Arlington National Cemetery.
About three dozen people attended services for radar operator Sgt. James "Red" Harrell, who was 21 when his plane disappeared while returning to its base at Kunsan, South Korea, on May 30, 1953. Sgt. Harrell's niece, Jimmie McClung, eulogized the uncle she was named after as "a man who believed in God and country and chose to join the Marines at a time when his country needed him." She was presented with an American flag, her uncle's dog tags and the belated thanks of a grateful nation.
Mrs. McClung, a 2-year-old girl when Sgt. Harrell disappeared nearly half a century ago, joked about the difficulties she endured going through life with a man's name. But she turned serious to describe the bond she felt it created between her and the uncle she never knew. "I think my uncle would have thought that was quite humorous," she said, "and I also think we would have been quite close."
She said she and her husband had spent years making inquiries into her uncle's disappearance, to no avail.
"Now our search is over," she said, breaking into tears at the pulpit.
Charles Harrell, Sgt. Harrell's nephew, came to honor a promise he made to his father, who died in 1986 not knowing the fate of his brother.
"One of the last things he asked me to do was attend the service if they ever found his brother," Mr. Harrell said.
Sgt. Harrell's remains were found last summer on a beach just miles from the base in Kunsan. The pilot of the plane, Capt. James B. Brown, is still missing.
After the service, the flag-draped casket containing Sgt. Harrell's remains was escorted to the grave site by an honor guard of Marines, who fired a 21-gun salute in a steady rain.
As a lone bugler played taps, the rain lessened. And as the honor guard strode in formation from the grave site, the sun came out.
At least one former Marine could be seen dabbing his eyes.
Three members of Sgt. Harrell's squadron, the Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron 513, nicknamed the "Flying Nightmares," attended the service.
At a reception afterward, Mrs. McClung shared yellowed photographs Sgt. Harrell had sent home decades ago. His squadron mates identified themselves and the other young men that appeared in the photos, stopping with each picture to tell a story.
Squadron member Ron Harbison balanced himself with his cane as he lifted a foot, muddied from standing at the graveside of his friend, to demonstrate the crouch required to fit in the radar operator's seat.
"You've changed," Harold Ruddy said, teasing his bespectacled, white-haired squadron mate, Ron Stout.
Mr. Stout recalled the night Sgt. Harrell was lost.
They were flying separately in Douglas F3D-2 "Skynights," a "primitive" jet that was used to escort packs of about a dozen B-29s on nightly bombing missions into the North, he said.
Returning from a mission deep in North Korea, he recalled a final radio conversation he had with Sgt. Harrell.
"We passed through their sector and had to identify ourselves," he said. "We talked to them on the radio, and Red said they had been relieved and would fall in behind us."
But Sgt. Harrell's plane never returned.
"By any reckoning they were only two minutes behind us," said Mr. Stout, who traveled from Burien, Wash., to attend the service.
Mr. Harbison came from Saxonburg, Pa., and Mr. Ruddy from Long Branch, N.J.
"As soon as I heard about this, I said, 'I'm coming down,'" Mr. Harbison said. To this day, he said, they all still wonder what happened to Sgt. Harrell's plane.
"I'm not saying I think about it every day, but over 49 years, I have thought about it," he said. "It's something you do because you don't know."
"It's truly stressful not to recover a friend's body," Mr. Stout added.
Mike Mankin drove 18 hours with his wife, Ileana, after reading about the service in a Marine newsletter. A former Marine himself, he said he was compelled to come and support Sgt. Harrell's family.
"It's because we don't forget our own," he said.
Hopefully the base will recognize this brave MIA from Kunsan AB during their next MIA/POW ceremonies. Though he never did make it back to Kunsan, he did make the journey home after all these years.
* Marine Squadron VMF(N)-513 (1952-1953): "The Flying Nightmares"
o Flying Nightmares:
o On the Move: From WWII to Arrival in Japan to Itami to Wonsan, North Korea
o On the Move: To Yonpo, North Korea to Itami to Kangnung to Kunsan to Pyongtaek
o Arrival at Kunsan:
o The Way We Did Business:
+ Close Air Support:
+ Flare-drop Mission:
+ Ground-level Friction between the Services:
o F4U-5NL Corsair:
o F7F-3N Tigercat:
o F3D-2 Skyknight:
o Squadron "kills":
o Air-to-Ground Results:- A review of the "Final Air-to-Ground Results: Aug 1950 - May 1953"
o Germ Warfare: -- The VMF(N)-513 is accused of using germ warfare from Kunsan
o Departed Kunsan for K-6:
o After Korea:
o 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron: -- F-94 Squadron from Suwon providing B-29 air cover with VMF(N)-513 and Specifications of the Lockheed F-94 Starfire
o B-29 Superfortress:-- Night bombing strikes on the North Korea (June 1952 - July 1953)
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19 June 2001
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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