News: Vietnam-era ‘Lancers’ reunite at K-Bay
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay - The only sound in the Base Chapel was the gentle trickle of water from the baptismal fountain as Marines unfurled the American flag in remembrance of
fallen Marines lost nearly 40 years ago during the Vietnam War.
More than 20 Vietnam veterans who served in Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 27.
On April 10, 1972, VMFA-212, a unit of then-Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam. Many years later, these Marines would keep in touch and have reunions in various locations. This year, they decided to return to MCB Hawaii, near the anniversary of their deployment.
“It’s always nice to see everyone,” said Richard Revie, the former commanding officer of VMFA-212. “I was very anxious to see [the changes on the base].”
Revie, 80, of Hilton Head, S.C., had not seen Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 40 years. When asked of his fondest memory of the base, Revie simply replied that it had always been a desire to be stationed in Hawaii.
“I wanted to be stationed here for so long, Revie said with a smile. “Every time I volunteered to come here, they’d send me overseas.”
He noted there is a lot more construction going on, and described it as an “entirely different base.”
The “Lancers” and their families arrived on base in the afternoon. After briefly meeting Col. Brian P. Annichiarico, commanding officer, MCB Hawaii, the Lancers held a memorial service for their fallen comrades in the Base Chapel. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II which sits as a static display near the base’s H-3 gate, bears their names: Capt. Ben L. Tebault, 1st Lt. Mike J. Konow, and Capt. Jack W. Consolvo, Jr.
A fourth name also appears on this aircraft: Capt. Jim Castonguay, who survived and today lives in Spearfish, S.D.
Castonguay was Consolvo’s radar intercept officer on May 7, 1972, when their plane was shot down just north of the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam. Castonguay was able to eject, but Consolvo was not as fortunate.
“Father, we ask for your blessing on these proceedings to honor you and to remember those who briefly and bravely risked their lives to stand in the gap between tyranny and freedoms that we hold dear,” retired Maj. Jeb Strickland, of Houston, said in an opening prayer
at the memorial.
The veterans softly named additional comrades who were not lost in combat but have also passed away with time. The crack of gunfire could be heard just outside of the Base Chapel’s doors, as Marines of an honor guard firing detail, in dress blues, held their rifles in a salute to the fallen. In true Marine Corps fashion, Strickland rendered a salute to the younger Marines, accepting an American flag and passing it along with a special plaque to Revie.
Castonguay said the “young Marines did a beautiful job” providing the firing salute and ceremonial flag folding. He remembered Consolvo as one “heck of a guy” and a good pilot. The former assistant avionics officer visited the base for the first time in 38 years.
“It brought back some old memories, some of them good, some of them bad,” Castonguay said of returning to the base.
The group left the Base Chapel and headed for the hangars. Between Hangars 103 and 104, at the edge of the flightline, the veterans and their families approached the cool waters of Kaneohe Bay. After a prayer and a few words from retired Col. Ed McMenamy, of Palm Beach, Fla., Revie’s wife, Joanne, Maureen Jackson and Patty Chime (formerly Tebault) each threw a flower lei into the bay.
The group headed to the Officers’ Club, where Revie shared his memories of MCAS Kaneohe Bay. Active duty service members and civilians from the base also chatted with the veterans.
“I’m really in awe of the young Marines of today,” said Jackson’s husband, Dennis, of Annapolis, Md. “They’re tough, they’re flexible, they deploy all the time and they don’t complain.”
Jackson, now a retired colonel, was a captain when he was stationed at MCAS Kaneohe Bay between 1969 and 1972.
The veterans of VMFA-212 have a reunion every two years in various places, but this is the first year they chose to meet at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Jackson considers the group to be like “brothers from another mother.”
“I’m just grateful to be part of this group,” Jackson said. “We have a reunion every two years because we realize that we’re losing some of us with age so we want to hang in there together until the last one is standing.”