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Navy Cross

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  • Navy Cross

    I thought some members of HMLA-267 may enjoy this history.

    I was assigned to VMO-5 in 1967 when we learned we were about to be redesignated as Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 267. At the time, we had about twenty UH-1E's (usually three or four hangar queens) and we were about to get the OV-10A Bronco. The intent of HQMC was to stand up two to three squadrons of OV-10's in RVN at quickly as possible. Very suddenly, HML-267 was getting new guys into the squadron at five a day and OV-10's were arriving faster than we had places to put them. What was more incredible, there was no NAMTRADET for the OV-10 and we got in a box of pubs about three days before the aircraft arrived. We had never seen an OV-10 before and they were arriving broken. We walked out to the flight line with our tool boxes and stared at this THING. You have to remember that this was a helo squadron that now has fixed wing in it. We started working three crews a day, six days a week to get up to speed. As per usual the USMC "can do" spirit prevailed, but on the other hand it was a typical SNAFU.
    This is no lie-------at the height of this debacle we had about fifteen Hueys and geez----I'd say we had over thirty OV-10's. We had over 800 marines in the squadron. We had almost TWO HUNDRED guys in avionics. We had a crappy quonset hut that you could only fit twenty guys in. Avionics had guys out to every crappy detail you could imagine. The last time I was at Campen was around 1992 and 267 AVI, WC 210 and 220 were in that same quonset hut! Then in mid 1968 all of the OV-10's were sent to RVN and the squadron emptied. I left in June 1968 and wound up in VMO-6 at Quang Tri.

    Now to the reason for this posting.

    Two Marines from HML-267 were awarded the Navy Cross. One was Gunnery Sergeant Bob Cover. Gunny Cover was the NCOIC of AVI when we were VMO-5/ HML-267. He was a quiet thoughtful man and a great NCOIC. He treated you with dignity and respect. He never yelled. If something was screwed up, he gave you a thoughtful explanation of his observations, applied the necessary correction, and sent you on your way. Gunny Cover received the Navy Cross for dashing across a rice paddy from a UH-1E gunship, on several occasions, to rescue wounded Marines, while himself being shot several times. Gunny Cover was not that old, but he looked fifteen years older than he was--so this really was an incredibly extraordinary act of heroism.

    Oddly enough, when Bob Cover was the NCOIC of avionics at HML-267, he had a young L/Cpl working for him by the name of Marvin Devries. Marv was an electrician who had had enough of college and become a Marine. Sometime during 1968, while consuming a gallon of wine one Saturday night sitting on our footlockers in the squad bay, several of Marv's "buddies", convinced him that he should apply for a commission. In June 1968, L/Cpl Devries was on his way to Quantico. In June 1969, 2nd Lt Devries was a platoon commander with Echo 2/3, 3rd MARDIV. On a night as black as hell, in August 1969, Lt Marvin Devries was uploaded to the 9th Marines as a reinforcement on Mutters Ridge. Mutters Ridge was famous as a killing zone. "Abandon hope---all ye who enter here". On this night, Lt Devries and his platoon were assaulted by an overwhelming North Vietnamese enemy force. The enemy repeatedly broke through the defensive perimeter and Lt Devries and his men repeatedly counterattacked and drove off the enemy. At one point Lt Devries, while rallying his men ,was repeatedly wounded by exploding ordnance ----------yet he and his Marines prevailed. For his actions, 2nd Lt Devries was awarded the Navy Cross.

    So----when anyone asks you what squadron you are in---you can stand a wee bit taller and a wee bit straighter and tell them that you are in a squadron, who's avionics division turns out Navy Cross recipients!

    Tom Constantine
    MGySgt USMCR Ret
    Last edited by Tom Constantine; 11-21-2011, 21:34.