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  • 03 May 2023 6:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MCATA Members and friends of MCATA,

    We are proud to report that as of yesterday MCATA reached our fundraising goal of $180,000 for the VMGR Memorial Monument. To every one of you reading this who made a contribution, large or small, thank you. Truly and sincerely, your support for this important project is humbling and inspiring. The forty-three Marines whose names will be permanently honored on the VMGR Memorial Monument, and those Marines' families deserve all the committee’s hard work, and all your contributions that went into reaching this goal. Thank you.

    Our work continues. The MCATA VMGR Memorial Monument Committee has more to do. Our next tasks and efforts will be to plan and fund a dedication ceremony worthy of these Marines' memories and of their families' sacrifices. Our committee does not want to turn to our next challenge without first expressing our thanks for your support and generosity in helping us to reach our goal.

    As a side note: we are still accepting your donations and brick purchases. Additional monies raised will be used to pay for the dedication facility rental, the dedication ceremony itself, and a dedication reception for the families. We have nearly 200 more brick placements available, and we encourage you consider a brick to commemorate your service, or that of a loved one you feel would be a fitting honoree with a brick placed at the foot of the VMGR Memorial Monument.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Your MCATA VMGR Memorial Monument Committee


  • 16 Mar 2023 8:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good morning Transporters! Yesterday Associate Member Johnathan Keene reported that he received our formal approval letter from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation (MCHF). The approval, signed by Major General John Lukeman, President and CEO of the MCHF, gives Kline, the monument company who will fabricate and install the monument, the green light to start their processes.

    We have a lot yet to do. Fundraising continues, and we are every day humbled at your support of our forty-three "Monument Marines". Now that Kline has the go-ahead, we'll start to see their invoices as they work on our monument. Not too long from now we'll have to start planning for a dedication ceremony, one that will honor these Marines in a way that will leave their families feeling certain that their Marine was not forgotten and that their sacrifices as the families of these Marines was and is foremost in our heart and minds as we at MCATA work to make it a reality.

    For anyone who may want to contribute to the memorial, here's a link to the Memorial page on the MCATA website: VMGR Memorial Monument info and donations

    Semper fi,

    Matty P

  • 03 Mar 2023 7:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The article in At Ease Magazine telling the story of MCATA Associate Member and VMGR Memorial Monument founder Johnathan Keene has gone to print. The magazine hides behind a pay wall, but At Ease publisher Christine Walker, a former Navy Medic who served with Marines, has given me and MCATA permission to post the electronic version here for your enjoyment. I discovered At Ease Magazine last November as I was looking for places of interest to veterans and people supportive of us to help spread the word about our monument project. I found that like the publication quite a lot and I took a subscription myself. The link below will take you to a free copy of "our issue". MCATA and John Keene are featured on pages 42 and 43. Enjoy. If you like the magazine like I do, I encourage you to support At Ease with a subscription.

    At Ease Freebie for MCATA

    Note that the picture of 816, above, was taken by the article's author, USMC vet Les Stevenson in Dong Ha, Vietnam in 1966. Les is a great guy and I think you'll agree MCATA did well by his article.

    Semper fi,

    Matty P

  • 07 Feb 2023 6:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Greetings MCATA members and visitors to our site and blog!

    This past Sunday morning, Past President and current Secretary and Webmaster of MCATA Rich Driscoll, MCATA Associate Member and originator or the VMGR Memorial Monument, Johnathan (John) Keene, and I had a Zoom conference call with American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. National President Sarah Taylor and their Information and Technology Chairman Lee-Ann Forsythe. I expect an announcement of a collaboration between Gold Star Moms and MCATA on the VMGR Memorial Monument project in the coming days or weeks. For now I'll leave out the details until the arrangement is approved by their Board and by ours. I do want to talk a little bit about our project in light of the short visit we had with them this past Sunday.

    Sarah Taylor is the proud mother of Army Spc. David W Taylor, 82nd Airborne, who was KIA on 03/29/12 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Lee-Ann Forsythe is a Marine mom whose son, Lance Cpl. Marc L. Plotts, an Iraq veteran, died at MCB Hawaii on 3/30/10 while training for deployment to Afghanistan. Lee-Ann is the daughter of a Marine and a Marine herself. Semper fi.

    American Gold Star Mothers Website

    We at MCATA, as an organization at least, we are fairly new in this "space". The space to which I refer is honoring our fallen as an organization with an effort of the scope magnitude of the VMGR Memorial Monument project. Gold Star Moms, on the other hand, they live and breathe in this space and they are giants in it, even if their humility and modesty inhibited them from coming across as better than us or anything of the sort. I was flabbergasted as Sarah accounted for a seemingly endless list of projects and programs they're involved in partnerships with or doing themselves. In describing who American Gold Star Mothers are, Sarah said something that really struck me. I am sure Rich and Johnathan were equally moved. She told us (paraphrasing) "Gold Star Moms are mothers who are ready to move on from our own grief and to make a difference for other Gold Star mothers and families who are still grieving."

    And here we are, little MCATA, making a VMGR Memorial Monument a reality. Since very early on in this project it has been clear to me that the project is first, foremost, and primarily a way for us to honor our Marines for their families. It is our way to show these families that their loved one, surely one of us: family to us, friend to us, squadron mate to us, crew mate to us, liberty taker and hell raiser with us, that these Marines and their sacrifice is not and never will be forgotten. If you have any doubt that this is about these families, let me point out the obvious. This memorial, a VMGR Memorial Monument, was NOT originated by us or any other USMC entity. It's originator is Mr. Johnathan Keene. Who is he? He's the first cousin of Captain Robert Walls, who as a member of VMGR-352 was killed after QB 685 crashed at MCAS El Toro in 1970. The originator is a family member.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention MCATA Historian Alan Stinar's latest video, which also played directly into my emotions. It is an amazing piece of work that touches on the solemnity of this project, on the importance of the families of our Marines, and is something you need to watch if you haven't already. Here's a link: MCATA - Tribute to 809 and 813. If that don't move you, you haven't got a heart.

    Before I wrap this blog post up, I have to tell you. Last night I saw three donations come through on our site. In my current role, I do see the back-end, inner workings of our site. The first two donations were brick purchases by family members of Marines whose names will be engraved on the memorial. Keeping in mind the context of just having talked to the Gold Star Moms and watching Alan's video, when I saw those brick forms and donations come through, I sat here at my laptop with eyes full of tears. I only hope that these families know how much they matter to us at MCATA, and that they know how much their Marines matter to us. Then, a short while later, the third, a donation from a former VMGR-352 First Mech. Her note applauded us for honoring our fallen. Her donation helped us to do just that. She referred to them as our fallen. Ours. These are our Marines. They are us.

    I have known from the get go that this thing is about and for our Marines' families. Talking to American Gold Star Mothers, and hearing them express their belief in what we are doing was humbling and inspiring, motivating even. What we are doing DOES make a difference for these families,. It DOES matter to families of the fallen. It IS important work, meaningful work, worthwhile time and effort, and it IS an absolutely justifiable place to invest our dollars and our efforts.

    There is more news to come about American Gold Star Mothers vis a vis the VMGR Memorial Monument. There is more work for us to do and more money to be raised to make this thing happen. Are you on board?

    Semper fi,

    Matty P

  • 02 Feb 2023 5:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    This past Monday, Les Stevenson, a USMC Vietnam Veteran and writer for a magazine for veterans called "At Ease", interviewed me to learn more about MCATA and about the VMGR Memorial Monument. We had a great conversation, and I know that Les agrees that our story, and the story of our Marines lost and to be memorialized on the monument is an important one that must be told.

    Before we spoke, Les, who served as a ground radio operator with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, dug through his photos looking for anything he had that might be KC-130 or VMGR related. He found a photo he took at Dong Ha, as his unit was relocating to Phu Bai. It was taken on his second day in Vietnam, in 1966.

    Isn't it interesting that the picture he sent me from 1966 was of KC-130, tail number 816? Not so much? Well, let me tell you why it is to me. In July of 1980, I went on a 17 day AST mission out of Futenma. It was on that trip that I earned my First Navigator designation. The writer, Les, a USMC vet, sends me a picture of an airplane that is certainly near and dear to my heart. I immediately thought of my buddy and MCATA Member CWO-4 Terry Ruhter, USMC Retired, who was a CWO-2 at the time and gave this then young (and smart-assed) Corporal his first check. It's a small world, and this USMC world is even smaller. Sometimes stuff feels like it's got to be something more than coincidence. (This is sometimes.)

    Les also sent me a second Vietnam photo, with a question. Taken in 1967, taken from Camp Carroll, he took this second picture at night and it shows flares being dropped. Les thinks they were probably dropped by a C-130, but isn't sure. He said by the pattern he doesn't think they could be artillery delivered flares. He asked for our expert opinions. What do you think?

    Some of you with first-hand knowledge and experience, tell me what you think in the comments. Does this look like our work to you?

    I'm looking forward to Les' upcoming piece. I expect he'll be talking to another member or two. He lives in Ft Worth. Too bad we weren't talking prior to the reunion last October. I'm sure a visit with us there would have added immensely to the article.

    Semper fi,

    Matty P

  • 16 Jan 2023 6:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    In our previous blog we announced the re-commissioning of VMR-153 at K'Bay. Here's a little preview of the kind of cargo they will be transporting in the future, the NMESIS, Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System specifically designed to take out enemy shipping. 

    Here's the link to the story. 


  • 14 Jan 2023 9:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Yesterday, January 13, 2023, at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI, VMR-153 was re-commissioned after being decommissioned 63 years ago and is now re-designated as VMGR-153, the Marine Corps' newest KC-130 squadron. 

    Many of you already know, as part of the Commandant's "Force Design 2030", the Marine Corps is undergoing major changes. Among those are giving up all tanks, some aviation units, artillery units and infantry units in favor of highly mobile "Littoral Combat Regiments" equipped with highly lethal long-range surface to surface weapons and anti-ship weapons. This strategy, like all major changes in our history, is not without some controversy, but that's not today's story.

    Link to Force Design 2030 Overview: CMC38 Force Design 2030 Report Phase I and II.Overview.pdf

    What the changes mean to the KC-130 community is that it gives up one of two reserve squadrons (VMGR-452 Yankees were decommissioned last month) and stands up a new active-duty KC-130J squadron. 

    I'm personally speculating, but I suspect this will change the nature of the mission mix priority of the KC-130J squadrons towards transport of these weapons and their operators depending on the combat scenario. That would seem to be the reason to co-locate the squadron to Hawaii where the first Littoral Regiment is formed. In the near future there will be another Littoral Regiment at the new Marine Corps Base in Guam, Camp Blaz and a new Littoral Regiment formed in Okinawa. It seems obvious that VMGR-152 and 153 will share responsibility to support and transport these mobile units to wherever they need to go.

    The new KC-130J is not as dependent on having a fuselage tank to conduct aerial refueling as our older legacy KC-130's, so most aircraft are already cargo-frame configured and ready to perform transport or aerial refueling missions without any maintenance conversion. There is also an increase in the overall numbers of KC-130Js planned for each squadron and that I assume is in anticipation of an increase in overall demand for KC-130 support. That shift in mission mix likely implies the squadron's needing to ensure crews have the training and skills to safely get into and out of far-flung austere environments like remote islands all around the Indo-Pacific area and implies a lot of long-range overwater flying. Welcome back to the future! 

    There's more to come on this story and the entire restructuring of the Marine Corps with Force Design 2030, but we wanted everyone to hear the news about our newest squadron when it happened. Congratulations to the Marines of VMGR-153! Tail designation Kilo Bravo. 

    Semper Fi,


  • 11 Jan 2023 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good read, link to complete article at bottom.

    Japan is changing its self-defense stance for the first time in decades since WW ll. This is a major shift in our already strong alliance and comes in response to aggressive moves by China and North Korea in the Indo-Pacific region.

    Marine Corps stood up a Littoral Combat regiment in Hawaii last year and this Friday is commissioning a new KC-130 squadron there, VMGR-153. It is now announcing the transition of one artillery regiment, the 12th Marines on Okinawa, and the 4th Marines Infantry Regiment will be the next to transition and stationed in Guam where we now have a new Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz.

    These Marine regiments are designed to be highly mobile and quickly dispersed and are going to equipped with new weapons including anti-ship missile systems that could threaten and deny access to Chinese warships moving about the Indo-Pacific region. These systems will be truck mounted and will fit inside a KC/C-130 transport. We have already demonstrated the ability to quickly move these from island to island and place to place, fire them, load up and leave. The HIMARS is one system that has been at the forefront of the testing.

    The KC-130 squadrons will no doubt be part of the plan to provide mobility for these artillery and anti-ship systems and that will likely change the primary role and composition of the squadrons going forward. One might think of this as a "shoot and scoot" coastal artillery strategy.

    This new capability, combined with the ability to launch the Red Dragon palletized hypersonic missile system from a common cargo aircraft like a KC/C-130 could prove to be a major deterrent to Chinese naval ambitions.

    This new capability comes at a price and in order to pay for it and justify it the Commandant of the Marine Corps agreed to slash all Marine Corps tank units and other types of combat units not considered essential by him in this new environment. This has not come (as always in any new shakeup of this magnitude) without a lot of controversy, especially among older retired senior Navy and Marine Corps officers whose worldview of U.S. Naval services was formed at a completely different time and under different circumstances.


    Link to complete article: Shake up of Marine Units in Japan

  • 11 Jan 2023 6:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Late last month, the Marine Corps Reserve Association (MCRA) recorded and published a podcast about our VMGR Memorial Monument project. MCRA President, MCATA Member, and longtime USMC KC-130 pilot Ken Hopper hosted the podcast. Discussing the monument with Ken were:

    MCATA Board Member Jacob Cobb, MCATA Associate Member and VMGR Memorial Monument originator Johnathan Keene, current VMGR-352 Commanding Officer LtCol Courtney O'Brien, and gold star wives Jen Herrmann (Sumo 41) and Sherry Kevianne (Yanky 72).

    The podcast explores the project from its very beginnings. Since it was recorded we have continued to make progress. Things like money raised to date, etc., will be out of date, but the VMGR Memorial Monument story remains unchanged and it is a good one. Please listen to the podcast yourself, and please share it on your own social media if you are one to share such things. What MCATA is doing with the VMGR Memorial Monument is a great thing for the KC-130 community, past, present, and future. Let's share our story with the world. It's available on Spotify, at the link below.

    MCRA Podcast on Spotify

    Our VMGR Memorial Monument Committee continues. We are hard at work, primarily fundraising at this time. Later in 2023 we'll transition to planning for a dedication ceremony. We ask your help in spreading the word. This podcast is a great way for you to be well informed, and it's something you can easily share. Please do.

    Semper fi

    Your MCATA VMGR Memorial Monument Committee

  • 04 Jan 2023 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On January 9, 2002, seven of our Marines from VMGR-352 perished when their aircraft, Raider 04, impacted a mountain near Shamsi, Pakistan. As you are all well aware by now, the VMGR Memorial Monument will ensure their names, along with the thirty-six other Marines lost while operating USMC KC-130’s in over 60 years of operations, are not forgotten. You can contribute to the VMGR Memorial Monument here:


    Whether or not you can contribute to the monument (if you already have, thank you), please take a minute to read about Raider 04 and its crew of seven. January 9th marks twenty-one years since our Marine Corps transport family, and the seven families of these fine Marines, suffered the loss. We at MCATA remember them, we honor their service, sacrifice, and the sad and permanent loss their families have had to face since that day in January of 2002. We are their brothers and sisters, and surely, there but by the grace of God do we go, too.

    From the Arlington National Cemetery website:

    Arlington National Website Synopsis

    Crew info (highlighted names = link):

    Captain Matthew W. Bancroft, 29, of Shasta, California

    Captain Daniel G. McCollum, 29, of Richland, South Carolina

    Gunnery Sergeant Stephen L. Bryson, 35, of Montgomery, Alabama

    Staff Sergeant Scott N. Germosen, 37, of Queens, New York

    Sergeant Nathan P. Hays, 21, of Lincoln, Washington

    Lance Corporal Bryan P. Bertrand, 23, of Coos Bay, Oregon

    Sergeant Jeannette L. Winters, 25, of Du Page, Illinois

    On a personal note, I remember hearing about the loss of aircraft 160021 shortly after it occurred in 2002. I was deeply moved, I especially felt so moved by the loss of LCpl Bertrand. I knew that I, a Lance Corporal myself more than two decades prior, had been a young VMGR-352 navigator, and that I, too, had sat in that seat on QB 160021 myself. Surely it could just as easily have been me. Why was it he and not me? Who was LCpl Bertrand? Was he any different from me? And I knew for all the differences between us, the similarities started and ended with VMGR-352 Navigator and being aboard that specific airplane, and they were undeniable.

    I found out soon after that LtCol C. T. Parker was C.O. of VMGR-352. I'd known Terry when he was a 1Lt and I was a Warrant Officer in the mid-80's in 352. I wrote him a long letter expressing my feelings: feelings of sadness, solidarity, connection, and sympathy. The VMGR Memorial Monument project for me is an extension of what I felt that January in 2002, of all the things I wrote to him, expanded to all eight of our losses in operations now spanning nearly 62 years (it's 2023). I'm sure all of us, whether we were personally acquainted or not, understand the connection I feel to LCpl Bertrand, and have known and felt the same toward one or more of the fine forty-three Marines we are remembering forever with the VMGR Memorial Monument.

    Semper fi,

    Matty P

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