Discussion of early days at New River under LtCol Ritter — 18 Comments

  1. From: Webmaster
    To: Kay Grasso, Pres, VP, and all known pilots who were on USS Boxer in 1966

    Fellow Marines,

    I’m sending this on to those who went to VN on USS Boxer in case some of you old-timers might have something to share with Col Ritter’s daughter. Us FNGs arrived at New River after he had gone.

    S/F, Chuck

  2. On Fri, Jan 21, 2022, 6:05 PM Chuck Johnson wrote:

    Hi Kay,

    I have posted what you sent me at I took the liberty of incorporating some of your email into the post. Please take a look and see if you would like for me to change anything.

    Would love to have videos of Col Ritter’s recollections from his long, distinguished career, especially his time with HMM-265. I haven’t incorporated any videos into the website as yet, but this would be a good time to learn.

    Have already received a response from Gerry Lear (see cc: above), one of the old-timers I sent it to, who wrote, “That is incredible! As they say, who knew? I remember him well and would love to see the photos. . . . Write me when you hit 100. Gerry”

    Again, thanks for reaching out.

    Best regards and Semper Fi,

  3. On 1/22/2022 at 12:44 AM Kay Grasso wrote:

    Thanks for posting this, it looks great to me. I’m glad you knew where that beach photo was from. Dad said it was on the cover of National Geographic, but I could never confirm that. I hope you get some comments, I think it would sure entertain Dad and bring back some good memories.

    Blessings, Kay

  4. On 2022-01-26 at 22:07 Elliott Dix wrote:
    Mrs Grasso please pass to the Col. This is the first email I will send. A little pressed for time this time around.
    I’ll provide some info ‘bullet’ style.
    Elliott Dix
    2ndLt MARCAD Commissioning
    HMM-265. 1 Oct 63 – Jan 67
    Junior Lt….Coffee Mess Officer
    Names I remember: Ron Rook, Connie Barsky, Cess Pool, Dave Spurlock, Dick Elliott, Guy Brown, Bruce Parsons, Gerry Dooley, Mike Tivnan, Bernie Terhorst, and lots of the F8 transition pilots that were not happy about joining us.

  5. On 2022-01-26 at 23:23 Harry “Soupy” Campbell wrote:

    I’m responding to this e-mail relative to Ltcol Lee Ritter USMC (Ret) who was HMM-265 first Commanding Officer in Oct/Nov 1962. I sent a birthday card to Ltcol Ritter last week on his 100th birthday. Thanks to Col Duane Jensen, who provided his address and date of birth.

    I was a young 2nd Lt who had earned his naval aviator wings early Oct 1962 and ordered to MAG-26 while on leave to report immediately to New River, NC. This was during the Cuban Missile crisis. Other new 2Lts that joined the Squadron were Jim Henke, Ferd Grau, Bruce Parsons. and J. J. Foley. Later in 1963 2nd Lts Stan Passick, Bo Johnson (deceased) and Scotty MacGregor joined the Squadron.

    The squadron deployed aboard the USS Boxer, I believe Jan 1963, for a Caribbean cruise for three months. We were staged at Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. This is where the “Thunder Mug” was born. It was flown aboard the USS Boxer external
    with Ltcol Ritter as the HAC. He was Whistled Aboard by the Navy. I was aboard as the Asst. Embark Officer to Capt Doug McIntosh (deceased). When we got back to New River 2ndLt Bruce Parson was put in charge/custodian of the “Thunder Mug”. He cleaned it up and decorated it with the squadron logo. The first showing was at Camp Lejeune Officers’ club with their wives in attendance. The first drink was “French 75’s.” Unfortunately I was unable to attend because I was the squadron Duty Officer that day.

    It was a great squadron, especially for us young 2nd Lts who were enlisted MACADs going through flight school. We experienced our first Mess Night and formal USMC Birthday Ball with HMM-265. Other officers in the squadron who are no longer with us are Swede Larson, Mike Tivnan, Jerry Dooley, Dave Martel, Fred Allega, Joe Flaherty and others I can’t recall right now. I have photos and more info in boxes in storage.

    Semper fi,

    Harry “Soupy” Campbell

    [Forwarded to Kay Grasso by Webmaster]

  6. On 1/27/2022 11:25 AM Kay Grasso wrote to Chuck Johnson and Soupy Campbell:

    Thanks so much for these notes. I’m going to see Dad today and will share the emails of memories with him. I’m sure he will be tickled to have heard from you. I have one more photo to share also, it is of someone drinking a beer standing on his head. Dad remembered who it was, but I need to ask him again who it is because I didn’t write it down. Do either of you remember this?

    [Webmaster added accompanying photo to the first batch from Kay Grasso]

  7. On 2022-01-27 at 11:44 Webmaster wrote:

    My guess would be Wimpy Wimmler. He would hop up on the bar into a handstand and drink from a glass by gripping it with his teeth on the opposite side of the glass. Quite a show. Soupy?

  8. On 2022-01-27 at 18:38 Jim Henke wrote:

    Hello to all,

    So glad to have Col Ritter’s address again. I used to keep in touch with him when he was in a rest home before and would call him on his birthday every year, but that was about 6 years ago. My wife Karen, who taught in the base school system, had Col Ritter’s son in her class.

    I came aboard on the base a little later because I played football for the Pensacola Military Goshawks for two years, lots of fun and traveling to San Diego, San Antonio, and Mexico city etc. Came aboard in October, 1962,

    President Kennedy made his famous Cuban Missile crisis speech on October 20,1962, I had just finished flight training and the Marine Colonel give me orders to stay and finish the football season and then 30 days leave. This was done on Monday and that night the speech was made and the next day I was called in. The Colonel torn up my orders from the previous day and said we have spent too much money in your training and we may have a war, so report to New River next week. I replied, “Yes, Sir, glad to do it!” I joined HMM 265 and LtCol Ritter was my CO.

    Now a little story on the ” THUNDER MUG”. We did have the Mug at Happy Hour every Friday, other squadrons didn’t care for it, so it was stolen by one of the other squadron members. I happened to find the name of the person who took it and got his home telephone number. The next morning I called his home and spoke to his maid he that I was supposed pick up a mug or toilet asked if she could tell me where it was located. She said, “Yes, it’s in the closet.” I said, “Okay, I will send someone over right away.” You should have seen the surprised faces of the guys in the other squadron at happy hour that Friday. End Of story!

    It was good to hear from you Kay, thanks for the update on your Dad. Tell him Hello from me, Major Jim Henke. I have always thought so much of your Dad. If I remember correctly, I think there were two sons and my wife taught them (might have been just one).

    Hope all are doing well and take care!


    Jim Henke

  9. On 2022-01-27 at 18:51 Bob Basye wrote:

    Fellow Marines:

    Thanks for including me in your email thread. I’ve read with interest your memories of serving with Col. Ritter in the early days of HMM-265’s history. I came into the squadron a bit later at the beginning of the 1968 Tet offensive. Over the years I’ve kept in on-and-off touch with many of my squadron mates but it wasn’t until I got connected with the HMM-265 Veterans Association that I really got to know better many of the Marines who served in Vietnam, especially in the mid-to-late 60s.

    I happen to be the current President of the Association, and, if you are not already members, we’d love to have you come aboard and share your experiences with us at our next biennial reunion, 2023 in Tucson, Arizona. Spread the word to other members, too.

    Joining is easy. Just sign up at There’s no dues nor annual membership fee, and you gain access to the entire web site and all communications originating from the Association, including reunion info and planning.

    We’re in the process of recruiting younger Marines to carry on the squadron’s history and traditions. One of our Board members, Neal Perdue, a retired gunny from the squadron’s later years, joined up a few years ago and has been instrumental in bringing a few of his buddies on board, so we hope to gain momentum in that direction. Maybe we’ll even get a few VMM-265 members eventually.

    Also, our webmaster, Chuck Johnson, has sort of fallen into the role of collector of squadron memorabilia, especially photographs. He’s done a great job of putting together photographic galleries of members’ submissions on the web site. You’re welcome to bring your actual collections to the reunion, too, for all to enjoy.

    So, we’re hoping you can get together with us over the Marine Corps Birthday next year in Tucson!

    Semper Fi,
    Bob Basye, President

  10. On 2022-01-27 at 23:06 Soupy Campbell wrote:


    You got me! I did remember to send the e-mail to Wimpy but forgot to mention him as one of the 1stLts in the Squadron when we deployed on the USS Boxer on that Carib cruise in 1963. Our first stop on that cruise was Gitmo. We ended up at the Officer’s club and Wimpy went to do his trick of doing a handstand on the bar but unfortunately his feet got caught up in the ceiling fan above the bar. They had no air conditioning at the club. I believe we were asked to kindly leave the club.

    The ship’s next stop was Puerto Rico. However the grunts wanted four H-34s to Vieques/Camp Garcia while the ship was still at sea. The ODO, Mike Tivnan, wanted volunteers so he got me, Jim Henke, Bruce Parson and I believe J.J. Foley as co-pilots and the HACs were Mike Tivnan, Wimpy Wimmler, and I believe Joe Flaherty and Dave Martel. Wimpy got to do his handstand on the bar at a club in Isabel Segunda that evening.

    Semper fi,

  11. On 2022-01-27 at 15:37 Scotty MacGregor wrote:

    I’m replying “To all” so I might hear from others too. I was really excited to hear from you about HMM 265 and some of your memories from the earlier years.

    My history with HMM 265 began in April or May of 1963 after the original group returned from the Boxer Caribbean cruise. Johnny (Bo) Johnston, Stan Pasciak, and Glen (Scotty) MacGregor came aboard as the newest 2Lt.’s. With that seniority, among other duties, we inherited the title of “Custodians of the Thunder Mug”. Major Bob Hatch gave us the responsibility of never letting it be harmed or stolen and to have it at all squadron Happy Hours on Friday. French 75’s were the drink. I’m pretty sure I still have photos of it with an 8×10 of Col Ritter on the inside lid.

    I deployed with HMM 265 aboard the USS Okinawa in the Fall of 1963 to the Caribbean. Was part of the crew that made the 10,000th landing aboard the ship, along with Capt. Mike Tivinan.

    Harry, does anyone keep or store early history records, photos etc. for others to enjoy? I may be able to provide a few.

    S/F, Glen MacGregor (Scotty)

    [Webmaster Comment: The best thing to do with pictures, including .pdf files of documents, that you’d like to share would be to send them to the Webmaster to be put into a gallery or post on the website. See Submitting Photos for Galleries for how to do it.

  12. On 1/27/2022 at 19:01 John Winter wrote:


    I have been wondering about Col. Ritter and am happy to know that he is not numbered among the RTBs as I’d feared. As our first CO, he commanded the squadron when we went aboard USS Okinawa for PHIBULEX 63 on Vieques. Tucson is getting closer!



  13. On 1/28/2022 at 16:20 Duane Jensen wrote:

    I have received thanks from some of you for bringing Lee Ritter’s recent birthday to your attention but want to point your attention to our scribe, Gordo Tubesing, who alerted me and who deserves your thanks. I wasn’t aware of the recognition afforded Lee at MCRD and would have loved to have attended the observance. Lee deserved this recognition and I applaud his long life and long service.

    Duane Jensen

  14. On 1/28/2022 at 9:37 Kay Grasso wrote:

    I read all these emails to Dad yesterday and he really enjoyed hearing the names and the memories. The one thing that he chuckled at the most was the mention of “French 75s” and said “Boy, those were the days”.

    Thank you all for your service!

  15. ON 1/28/2022 at 21:45 Kay Grasso wrote:


    The post is great and all the emails have been a blessing in so many ways. I mentioned to Duane Jensen that I have a video of some pictures and the MCRD graduation where they honored Dad with the Osprey flyover. If you are interested in seeing it, I can send it. Again, I didn’t want to send a big file to you without you knowing what I was up to. (Actually, I think it goes to the Google cloud and you get a link.) Let me know if you want to see it.

    Thanks again!


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