While stationed at the Marine Air Base at Futema, Okinawa, every Marine in my barracks was volunteering for a tour of duty in Vietnam. We all had been trained for combat and were looked forward to proving our metal; to ourselves and to our country. When I received my orders to head “south” I had no idea of what to expect. The South Vietnamese government had just been overthrown in a military coup, Buddhist monks were setting themselves on fire to protest government religious policies, and the Viet Cong were ratcheting up their offensive operations in the South. I arrived in Danang on January of 1964 and rotated back to Okinawa in August of that same year. I never saw combat, never went on combat patrol, and never had to help defend against an enemy attack of my base. I never lost a friend or relative to combat. I sometimes say, I arrived in Vietnam the night before the first morning of combat. In March, 1965, two battalions of 3,500 Marines were deployed to Danang as a “security” force. They were the first ground combat forces committed to the war, and began to directly engage the enemy in combat. (The 23,500 American servicemen already in Vietnam were called “advisers.”) By then, I was back in the States waiting for my discharge. My wife often says, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” She is right. I came home, but more than 58,000 American servicemen and women did not. They had made the ultimate sacrifice. The names of 14,838 Marines are engraved on the Vietnam memorial. Every American, young and old, needs to walk that long, black wall in Washington, DC. Every student needs to read the names and ask questions about our involvement in that conflict and every conflict since. Every member of Congress and military leader needs to study the policies and tactics that lead to the ultimate sacrifice of so many Americans, and how to avoid similar outcomes in the future. Maybe then we can come together as a nation and again lead this world with honor and compassion. Maybe then we can stop the fights on Capitol Hill and in our town halls, and win the fights on the battlefield. We cannot forget. I will not forget.   Now, more than 45 years later, I am putting captions and commentary to the photographs I accumulated during my six-month tour in South Vietnam. No one’s memory is perfect, but I have tried to maintain some integrity on this website by mostly commenting on the photographs I’ve collected. I have tried to corroborate the historical facts I remember with the written accounts of Marines and helicopter squadrons that operated out of Danang, South Vietnam and Futenma, Okinawa, during my tours of duty. Am I going to get everything right? Absolutely not. The memory gets tricky after 45 years and I never had the intention to make this website a historically perfect thesis. I have no “war stories” to tell; no combat experiences. What I am hoping to offer readers are the anecdotes of a kid from a blue-collar town in New York, who had the opportunities and the luck to see the world through the eyes of an artist, as well as through those of a U. S. Marine. Semper Fi, Paul G., Corporal USMC
A Personal Note 
                    Cultural Note Many Vietnamese words are spelled as if syllabicated. For example, “Vietnam” is “Viet Nam.” On this website I have displayed Danang as a single word although it would be more correct to use Da Nang. I apologize to anyone who is distracted by my one-word spellings, but I am using “Danang” and other Vietnamese words as they were used by American forces in 1964.
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References:  Whitlow, Captain Robert H., USMCR. U.S. Marines In Vietnam, The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era 1954-1964. Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, 1977. The Marines In Vietnam 1954-1973, An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography,  Second Edition. Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, 1985. Marine helicopter squadron HMM-361, Flying Tigers. www.3maw.usmc.mil/mag16/hmh361 Marine helicopter squadron HMM-364, Purple Foxes. www.hmm-364.org Marine helicopter squadron HMM-162, Golden Eagles. www.hmm-162.com USMC/Combat Helicopter Association, POPASMOKE. popasmoke.com
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Vietnam Veterans Memorial   Washington, DC
SHUFLY United States Marine Corps Danang, South Vietnam, 1964 Operation
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Operation SHUFLY was the code name for U. S. Marine Corps operations in Vietnam, in the early years of that conflict. We were there to train the South Vietnamese as helicopter pilots as well as advise them on transporting troops to and from combat operations in their country. We also conducted “milk runs” to resupply rural village hamlets with food, medical supplies, and other materials. These hamlets, developed with the help of Army advisors, were intended to be secured and defensible villages, giving Vietnamese farmers a safe haven to live and work.