Wet Behind the Ears

Wet Behind the Ears

This took place around the summer of 1967 when VMFA-334 had just received their new F-4Js. I was a new, wet behind the ears LCpl fresh out of ‘A’ School and working on the first aircraft of my Marine Aviation career. My job was to assist a Sgt with replacing the generator on a C-117 (R4D).

A Phantom began its rollout so I turned around to watch. The aircraft lifted off, went nose high, flamed out, turned 180 degrees, landed backwards and exploded. This all happened close to the crash crew so they were there in an instant. Word was the RIO had punched out and received a broken leg or arm but the pilot stayed with it and walked away.

Driving to work a few days later, I saw it hauled away on a flatbed trailer. It was covered in soot from the RIO seat back but otherwise looked fine.

Wayne Stafford
MCAS El Toro

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Fidel Lominchar

    I worked on what must have been one of the last C-117s the Marine Corps had back in 1978-79, while stationed at MCAS Cherry Point (H&MS-14). Shortly after I got there, I was watching one of our C-117s taxi out to take off when I noticed that some kind of fluid was leaking out the tail of the aircraft, I rushed into our shop yelling that we needed to get the aircraft back to the flight line because it was leaking some kind of fluid. I was asked what color the fluid was and that is when it dawned on me that none of the fluids you find on an aircraft are yellow, except, of course, for the one coming out of the head near the tail of the aircraft. Needless to say, that little event was never forgotten by my new buddies.

  • Sgt. Randy Shierman

    In reply to Sgt Robert L Sisson.
    I enlisted in June 1966 after graduation from High School. My recruiter at the Pioneer Court House in downtown Portland, Oregon told me there were 3 options upon enlistment. (1) A two year year enlistment. No MOS gaurentee, you get what they give you and then four years active reserve after that. (2) A 3 year enlistment. No MOS gaurentee, you get what they give you and no active reserve. 3 years inactive reserve. (3) a 4 year enlistment of Avation Gaurenteed and you will be given some Avation MOS. No active reserve. 2 years inactive reserve. I took the 3 year enlistment on the 120 day delay program, and got the MOS that the Corps gave me: “2531 Field Radio Operator” 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Vietnam.

  • Paul Chacho Jr. SGT. E5 66to69.

    I was at MCAS El Toro from 67 to 68 with VMA214. I was a 6311 JetMech but I volunteered to help in the Admin office for 3 weeks and stayed 13 months. I probably flew on that same R4D because of a deployment to Yuma during which I had to fly back to El Toro via San Diego. Eventually I did get to work in my mechanics MOS with VMA 211 in ChuLai, South Vietnam for 13 months. It still amazes me how all of us Marines at such young ages (I was 19 at the time) took on so much responsibility and achieved so much. Semper Fi all. Paul Chacho Jr. SGT. E5. 66to69.

  • Richard Buskey

    Interesting story I worked on F8U Crusaders from 1957-1960.This was the aircraft assigned to VMF334.Cant believe they only lasted ten years

  • Richard Morris, Sgt.

    I was a member of that squadron working as a plane captain at the time and remember the incident. It was the third accident in a short period of time. One was an F8 Crusader went into the mountains known as saddleback and the pilot was lost. The other was our commanding officer who had to punch out of another Crusader and I believe the plane crashed on a local golf course. Flying high performance aircraft is not going for a joy ride as many expect

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