Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

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November Zero Echo Foxtrot Juliet

3rd Marine Division Forward HQ, Phu Bai

1966 -

James Alton Carter    Stan P Thurston 

 Amateur call N0EFJ belongs to Verda M Bates and expires in 2007.


I was in a Marine Corps CAC unit just south of Phu Bai and wandered into the MARS station and asked if they needed any additional bodies. They did. I applied and was approved for transfer. Once we were building a bunker outside our station for protection and had the big hole dug but the sandbags had not as of yet been placed on top of it. One night we received a huge amount of incoming mortar rounds and I was kicked in the but and was told "incoming" and quickly joined the rest of our group in the big hole outside...which was really no protection at all. If a round had dropped in there with us we would've all been goners. The funny part of this story has to do with these guys teasing me on Sunday mornings, our only morning that we could sleep in, as I would get up and make the weekly church service. Some of the guys were proclaimed atheists. So when I jumped in that hole with all of them and they were all on their knees praying out loud I was completely stunned! You could've knocked me over with a feather! It just goes to prove the old saw about "there ain't no atheists in a fox hole"! AMEN!

I was quite amused by their sudden change of behavior. Then there was the listening to fellows calling home to talk to loved ones and hearing "Dear Johns" from their wives and girlfriends. That was really difficult to do. 

James Alton Carter   N0EFJ 8/1/67 - 11/15/67           Back to Top

While attending avionics school at NAS Memphis a friend and I found that the MARS station was a great place to hang out in the evenings.  As we all know, with little resources a LCPL has few options for recreation after hours.  I received my conditional license and learned the MARS system.  It was a good way to attract WAVES offering to call home at no cost.  My wife of over 34 years was one of the WAVES that spent time at the MARS station with us "guys."  Stationed at MCAS El Toro I was trained at the intermediate level to maintain the fire control radar system for the F4-J aircraft (MOS 6238).  Without notice I received orders to Nam as a MARS operator.  Somehow CMC learned that I possessed an amateur license.  My first duty station was in the middle of an Army compound (8th R&R) near Phu Bai serving MAG-36 down the road near Quang Tri.  A GYSGT Maxwell was the CHOP and was a wheeler dealer from the old days. 

Stan P Thurston   N0EFJ   7/69 - 10/69           Back to Top