MAG-11, H and MS-11, MALS-11
Point of Contact - Squadron Duty Officer (SDO)
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Major Frederick Earl Lewis
Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Major Frederick Earl Lewis (MCSN: 0-81635), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron ELEVEN, Marine Aircraft Group ELEVEN, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 27 December 1969, Major Lewis launched as Pilot of an A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned the mission of conducting reconnaissance over enemy-controlled territory and, as he maneuvered low over suspected hostile positions, his aircraft was extensively damaged by a heavy volume of anti-aircraft fire. With his aircraft's vital systems inoperable, he was unable to control the spiraling aircraft and, quickly apprising the copilot of the critical situation, activated the ejection mechanism. As the copilot left the aircraft, he suffered a dislocated knee and, upon reaching the ground, was barely able to drag himself to a covered location in the tall elephant grass. Coming down one hundred meters from his copilot, Major Lewis quickly concealed himself in the grass and, utilizing his survival radio, transmitted both his and his copilot's positions and a request for assistance. When supporting aircraft arrived overhead, he skillfully guided them toward the anti-aircraft guns which he could hear firing in the vicinity. Subsequently, it became apparent that extraction would be impossible that night and he was advised to escape from the hazardous area by a safe route to the west. Unwilling to leave his helpless companion behind, Major Lewis sought sanctuary in an abandoned gun emplacement and, throughout the night, maintained complete silence as enemy soldiers deployed through the area, seeking to harass him into revealing his position. At first light, supporting aircraft again appeared overhead and advised him of the location of his copilot. Although fully aware of the possibility of detection and capture, Major Lewis nevertheless fearlessly crawled across the hazardous terrain to the side of his stricken comrade and, after rendering first aid again utilized his radio to pinpoint the hostile gun positions for the supporting aircraft. On one occasion, he boldly moved from his covered position to retrieve the copilot's parachute which he had used to mark their location. Throughout the day, he continued skillfully to transmit guidance and directions to pilots which enabled them to silence a sufficient number of anti-aircraft guns to permit a safe extraction. His heroic and determined actions were an inspiration to all who served with him and were instrumental in saving the life of a fellow Marine. By his courage, valiant initiative, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Major Lewis upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
Action Date: 27-Dec-69
Service: Marine Corps Rank: Major Company: Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 11
Regiment: Marine Aircraft Group 11 Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Plaque image from Joseph C. Baldwin Jr., son of Marine Aviator Lt.Col. J.C. Baldwin.
- Patch history unknown
- History unknown
- No data to date
- 1963 to 1965: NAF Atsugi, Japan
- 1965 to 1971: Da Nang Republic of Vietnam
- 1971 to 1999: MCAS El Toro, Santa Ana CA.
- 1999 to : MCAS Miramar, San Diego CA.
Air Wings Date: - Tail code - Air Wing
- In April 1965, MAG 11 deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam in support of counter-insurgency operations. Within 69 hours, after its departure from Japan, group element launched the first attack against communist (Viet Cong) forces.
During the period from April 1965 to February 1971, aircraft squadrons which comprised MAG 11 were Marine Fighter (All Weather) 232, Marine Fighter (All Weather) 235, Marine Fighter (All Weather) 312, Marine Fighter Attack 115, Marine Fighter Attack 122, Marine Fighter Attack 314, Marine Fighter Attack 323, Marine Fighter Attack 334, Marine Fighter Attack 513, Marine Fighter Attack 531, Marine Fighter Attack 542, Marine Attack (All Weather) 225, Marine Attack (All Weather) 242, Marine Attack 311, Marine Observation 2, Marine Composite Reconnaissance 1, and Headquarters and Maintenance 11.
- 19??- - - - - - - - CF - - - - - Unknown
- 1965 - 1973 - - - - TM - - - - - Unknown
- Departure and Return Dates: - Air Wing - Carrier - Aircraft - Area of Operations:
- APR 1965 to MAY 1971 MAG-11, H&MS-11, MALS-11 ran Da Nang, DMZ and southern North Vietnam air operations.
- July 1966- - - - - - - - - - - - Grumman TF-9J Cougar
- 3 May 1967 - 30 September 1989 - Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk
- ? to 9 APR 1966 - Lt.Col. W.H. Bortz, Jr.
- 9 APR 1966 - - - -Maj. D.A. Mickle
- 10 Jun 1966 - - - Lt.Col. F.C. Opeka
- DEC 1966 - - - - -Lt.Col. R.A. Cameron
- ? to APR 1970 - - Lt.Col. Dick Hebert
- MAR 1970- - - - - Lt.Col. Ward (designated to take command but KIA)
- APR 1970- - - - - Lt.Col. Speed Shea
- March 1965:
First Marine Division mud Marines waded ashore at Da Nang to protect the allied airfield from the Viet Cong. The mud Marines were soon in the midst of heavy combat and were requesting air support of their own. The Marine landing coincided with a need for a new air base on the coast in order to reduce flight time to targets in Quang Tin province and adjacent districts.
Da Nang was the first Marine air base in South Vietnam. Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) would direct most operations assigned Da Nang aircraft that flew north of the base and over the DMZ and southern North Vietnam. MAG-11 used the McDonnald F-4 Phantom for its Da Nang mission.
A second airfield was sorely needed. Chu Lai located about 50 miles south of Da Nang was chosen for the new airfield. Navy Seabees worked in 100-degree-plus temperatures to prepare the remote Chu Lai site for an aluminum plank SATS (short airfield for tactical support) "tinfoil strip" 4,000-foot runway. A catapult and arresting gear were planned to allow Skyhawks to use the field. The arresting gear was soon installed but a catapult was not available. So JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) was planned to reduce the Skyhawk takeoff distance by half. Soon the Chu Lai facility had a runway, arresting gear, taxiways, and a parking ramp. A catapult was installed May 14, 1966.
Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) was assigned to Chu Lai to direct most Skyhawk operations in South Vietnam. The plan was to rotate Skyhawk squadrons to and from Chu Lai and Japan to conduct combat operations.
The Skyhawk --- The Marine Corps had flown the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk since 1957, but had to wait eight years to fly the Skyhawk in combat. The A-4 Skyhawk was armed with two internal 20mm cannons and could carry additional guns in external pods. The A-4C had three external stores stations available and the A-4E had five external stores stations available. From the external stores stations Marine pilots could deliver approximately 8,500 pounds of ordnance ---"iron" bombs weighing up to 1,000 pounds, napalm, Zuni semi-guided rockets, cluster bombs, and unguided rockets.
Tropical weather in Vietnam provided much low cloud and rain to cover the Viet Cong. The Marines used ground controlled precision radar to allow bombing through clouds and at night. The pilot would put the aircraft on autopilot and couple to the ground precision radar controller when headed toward the target. The computerized system initiated directional changes and released ordnance at the correct altitude and time via radio signals received by the aircrafts's computer.
Tactical air control increasingly passed to jet aircraft during the war. Marine Skyhawk pilots worked with Air Force FAC (forward air controllers) using the Cessna O-1E Bird Dog; and the Marines had their own FAC aircraft --- the two-seat TA-4F Skyhawk dual-control trainer. The TA-4F had the two-cannon armament and similar stores delivery capability of the single seat Scooter. The TA-4F and single seat Skyhawk's avionics were similuar --- making for maintenance ease. The TA-4F was flown by Headquarters & Maintenance Squadron 12 and H&MS 13 at Chu Lai, and H&MS-11 at Da Nang.
- January 1968:
The North Vietnamese Tet Offensive began in January 1968, a focal point of the North Vietnamese attack was the Marine outpost at Khe Sanh. Having been isolated by the loss of the A Shau Valley area in 1966, the 26th Marines stationed there were hardly surprised when the attack began.
The battle to prevent the capture of Khe Sanh became one of the epic ground-air actions of the war. It included a huge logistics airlift to bring the Marine defenders food, medical supplies and ammunition. To help this effort, the Corps devised the "Super Gaggle" formation, which centered on a Lockheed Hercules C-130 cargo plane, flying with helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft escort. Twelve A-4s flew the first Super Gaggle on February 24, 1968, joining 20 CH-46 and UH-1E helicopters on a mission coordinated by a TA-4F. The role of the Skyhawks was to "sanitize" the en route and landing areas by working them over with bombs, napalm and 20mm cannon fire. Operation Niagara, the huge, coordinated air plan to hold Khe Sanh helped break the Tet Offensive; yet the break was not exploited, and the United States ultimately began withdrawing combat units. A number of bases lost their front-line status, among them Chu Lai.
- 11 APR 1968
TA-4F BuNO.153511 was lost to small arms fire. Col. L.T. Frey and Maj. D.F. Newon were rescued.
- 1 OCT 1968
TA-4F BuNo 153523 assigned to H&MS-11 was downed by AAA with both crew members ejecting. Capt. J. A. Spaith and 1st Lt. U. S. Grant were recovered uninjured the USS Towers, DDG-9.
San Mateo, CA, The Times, October 1, 1968
- 13 DEC 1968
TA-4F BuNo.153501 was lost after night TPQ mission 13 December 1968- suffered generator failure followed by loss of canopy- piloted by LtCol R.N. Smith and Maj J.T. Smith- both ejected successfully and rescued.
- 09 APR 1969
TA-4F BuNo.154299 was downed by AAA fire. Maj. Robert S. Meicznikowski and Capt. James C. Buffington were rescued.
Capt. Miecznikowski punched out of his aircraft over eastern Laos.
Search & Rescue (SAR) Report on the rescue of Captain Bob Miecznikowski.
- 27 DEC 1969
TA-4F BuNo.154621 was struck by ground fire and lost. Maj. Richard E. Lewis and 1st Lt. Paul E. Phillips were rescued.
- February 1970
MAG-12 departed Chu Lai Vietnam relocating in Japan. The VMA-211 Wake Island Avengers and VMA-311 Tomcats accompanied MAG-12 to Japan. The VMA-223 Bulldogs returned to CONUS.
The VMA-311 Tomcats moved to Da Nang and the operational control of MAG-11. The Tomcats continuing to support the ongoing war in Laos and Cambodia. One of the earliest arrivals in the war zone, VMA-311 had by May 7, 1971, flown 47,663 sorties.
- March 19, 1970 (H&MS-11)
Lt.Co. Ward was flying front seat of a H&MS Playboy TA-4F BuNo 154622 when he was struck by a single bullet and killed. Lt.Col. Ward was designated to take command of H&MS-11 from Lt.Col. Dick Hebert, but was killed before that happened. Lt.Col. Speed Shea took command in April in his place. After Lt.Col. Ward was hit, the TA-4 was flown back to base by the back seat pilot, 1st Lt. P.J. Lowery.
- 11 Jul 1970
TA-4F BuNo.154646 was hit by .50 caliber ground fire and lost. Capt. R.T. Rasmussen and 1st Lt. W.W. Mills were rescued.
- 31 JUL 1970
Distinguished Flying Cross (second award) to Major Frederick Earl Lewis.Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Frederick Earl Lewis (MCSN: 0-81635), United States Marine Corps, for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot with Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron ELEVEN, Marine Aircraft Group ELEVEN, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 31 July 1970, Major Lewis launched as Aircraft Commander of a TA-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to interdict hostile firing emplacements which had been discovered deep in enemy-controlled territory. Arriving over the designated area, he established contact with the Tactical Air Controller (Airborne) on station and was given a target brief on the weapons emplacements which had been precisely located. Undaunted by the extremely heavy volume of hostile fire directed at his aircraft and the adverse weather over the rugged terrain, Major Lewis resourcefully utilized the rain showers in the area to mask his approach as he boldly maneuvered his Skyhawk on repeated rocket and strafing runs and delivered all of his ordnance upon the target with pinpoint accuracy. As a result of the devastating attacks, all the enemy firing positions were destroyed. Major Lewis' courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were instrumental in accomplishing the hazardous mission and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
- September 3, 1970
Marine Base Chu Lai was transfered to the United States Army; the last Marine (VMA-311 Tomcat) sorties were flown from Chu Lai on September 11, 1970.
- 08 SEP 1970
TA-4F BuNo.154302 was lost due to a fuel system problem during a test flight. 1stLt. Higgins ejected successfully and rescued.
- May 1972
VMA-311 Tomcats arrived at Da Nang, Vietnam.
- May 1, 1972
VMA-311 flew sorties into Cambodian border regions.
- August 29, 1972
First Lieutenant Charles G. Reed flew VMA-311's 50,000th sortie. The Tomcats went on to fly a total of 54,625 sorties by the war's end.
- May 1972
VMA-211 Wake Island Avengers arrived Da Nang, Vietnam.
- January 28, 1973
VMA-311 Da Nang's ground personnel refuel the last Tomcat Skyhawks, hung the last bombs (painted red, white and blue and daubed with slogans for the occasion) on the Tomcat Skyhawks and strap in the last duty Tomcat pilots.
Colonel Dean Macho, commander of MAG-12, led the last mission, a strike into the Mekong Delta region. Da Nang's ground troops waited anxiously for the Skyhawks to return. They all did.
- February 1973
MAG-11 departed Da Nang, Vietnam. The VMA-211 Wake Island Avengers and VMA-311 Tomcats relocated to Japan.
- September 1973:
H&MS-11 Outlaws turned in their Douglas TA-4F Skyhawks.
- No data to date
circa 1968: H&MS-11 TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154325, TM-4, swings over the North Vietnamese serving as the ‘eyes’ of the battleship USS New Jersey, circa 1968. Piloting the Leatherneck aircraft is Maj. John L. Clark, Jr. (Glendale, CA) with 1st Lieutenant Pasquale J. Morocco (Lowellville, OH) serving as tactical observer. The Marines called in fire from the battlewagon’s 16 inch rifles which were directed against an enemy position north of the Demilitarized Zone.
Official USMC photo by Gunnery Sergeant R. W. Thompson. From the Jonathan Abel Collection (COLL/3611), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.
BuNo 154339: "Went To DaNang Feb 69 To Fly As a TACA (Tactical Air Coordinator Airborne) or (Fast Fac) as we were known since we flew jets as opposed to some of the AF guys in O-2s. . Mostly flew the Ho Chi Minh Trail over in Laos. A little in NVN. A couple times into Cambodia."
From Col. R. Clapp USMC (Ret)
TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 153508 - 1969
H&MS-11 TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 153508, side number TM 6 approaching a landing at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, August 2, 1969.
Color photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.
Takafumi Hiroe's website index to his USN aircraft pictures.
TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154302 - 1969
H&MS-11 Outlaw TA-4F BuNo. 154302, side number TM 8 is having a bad day, August 5, 1969, near Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan. After takeoff from Atsugi TM-8 had some "problems" and dumped his fuel to obtain landing weight. After orbiting the field several times the TA-4F landed safely.
Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa
TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154621 - 1969: H&MS-11 TA-4F BuNo. 154621, side number TM 5 at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan on August 22, 1969. Please notice the squatting Vietcong painted in front of the engine inlet.
JAN 1969: H&MS-11 Skyhawk BuNo 154299, TM-3, parked on the ramp and undergoing maintenance at O&R (aka PAR) Atsugi.
MAY 1970: Playboys Skyhawk BuNo 153489, TM-7, parked on the flightline with s ZUNI 5" FFAR pod on the outboard wing pylon.
TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154339 - 1970: Outlaw TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154339, side number TM 10 approaching a landing at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, August 29, 1970.
Color photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.
TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154630 - 1988: OA-4M BuNo. 154630, side number Tango Mike 02, of H&MS-11 "Outlaws", Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. Seen at London Airport, London, Ontario, Canada, on the occasion of the London International Airshow, June 5,1988. Painted in Tactical Paint Scheme "low viz" grays.
Photograph from Frank Mirande.
1988: BuNo 154630 on the ramp.
05 Jun 1988 BuNo 154630, TM-02, parked on the ramp.
Photo by D. Brown via S. Van Aken
Jun 1988 BuNo 154630, tail code MT-02.
Photo by D.F. Brown, G. Verver collection
H&MS-11 OA-4M BuNo 153531, TM-05, JUN 1989.
Photographer unknown, from Gary Verver Collection.
- Harry S. Gann.