General Hochmuth Story (View and Download the PDF Version)

[1] A Marine Corps Officer promoted from the enlisted ranks is referred to as a “Mustang.”  This term is unofficially defined as: “Any Marine, after having served on active duty in the enlisted ranks of the United States Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve, has risen to the officer ranks, and further served as a commissioned or warrant officer on either active duty or reserve status. The title includes all such Marines: active duty, reserve, retired, and/or honorably discharged. The title of a Marine of this status is, and shall evermore be...MUSTANG!”  (Reference: Marine Corps Mustang Assn.:


[2] Coincidentally, in 1967 at age 37, I was older than many, if not all, non-Mustang Lieutenants in the Division, and a few years older than some of the senior officers I worked with, which is perhaps one of the reasons the General and I got along so well.


[4]  It is interesting how Chu Lai got its name.  In his book, Vietnam Military Lore, Legends, Shadows and Heroes,” MSgt. Ray Bows, U.S. Army (Ret.) has this vignette (pg. 498): “Although few things were named in Vietnam for living servicemen, there is a well known story of one location named for a living Marine in Vietnam.  Chu Lai in Quang Tin Province was not even a town when the U. S. Marines constructed a major base there.  When LtGen. Victor4 H. Krulak selected he site for its airfield, a naval officer accompanying him remarked that the site was not marked on the maps.  Krulak replied that the name was ‘Chu Lai’ giving the officer his name in Mandarin Chinese characters and thus General Victor Krulak named Chu Lai for himself.

[5]  “Trigger” was Roy Rogers's faithful steed, often billed as "the smartest horse in the movies" during Rogers’ heyday as a singing cowboy. Picture and text from “Wild West Web.Net” 

[6]  Rogers and his first wife, Arline (Wilkins) had three children: an adopted daughter, Cheryl, and two birth children, Linda Lou and Roy Jr. Arline died of an embolism while giving birth to Roy Jr. in 1946. Dale and Roy had a daughter, Robin Elizabeth, who died of complications of Down syndrome at age two. Dale Evans wrote about losing their daughter in her book Angel Unawares. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).


[7] Career highlights from “official web site of Floyd Patterson

[8] Remember those old clichés “An Officer’s request is your command,” and “the request of your commanding officer is equivalent to a direct order? Those expressions are not clichés with Marines, they’re Proverbs!

[9] LtGen. Cushman earned the Navy Cross during the recapture of Guam in World War II, and later became the Twenty-fifth Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1 January 1972 – 30 June 1975

[10] General Hochmuth’s other decorations include: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Purple Heart medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, China Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one star, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal with one star, two National Defense Service Medals, Vietnam Service Medal with one star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.


[11]  I do not recall the name of the Marine seated next to me.  Accounts have established the identity of the five who died in the crash. One is listed as “Major Robert Andrew Crabtree, Portsmouth VA,” as an “Aide to Gen. Hochmuth.” I’ve often wondered if the Marine in this picture was Major Crabtree.

[12] Page 494, “Vietnam Military Lore, Legends, Shadows and Heroes” by Master Sergeant Ray Bows, U. S. Army (retired). No identification is furnished as to the name of the helicopter pilot, nor is a reference provided as to the source of MajGen. Hochmuth’s picture; however, on the page facing the title page MSgt Bows explains, “Many of the photographs in this book came from contributing families. Often times they were faded, torn or simply copies of copies of old newspaper articles.  Many have been retouched and restored through the meager facilities available to the author.  Previously published photos have been given credit when their source is known, although many of those photos are the property of the families who have given their consent for inclusion in this work.” (MSgt Bows inscribed my book as follows: “25 June 2000, To Jerry Merna, Best Wishes and Semper Fi! /s/Ray Bows.)”


[13] Semper Fi—Vietnam: from Da Nang to the DMZ: Marine Corps campaigns, 1965-1975 by Edward F. Murphy




[15] Full statements and additional information can be found on the USMC / Vietnam Helicopter Association web site. The acronym “MAG-36” stands for Marine Air Group 36.

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