HISTORY - ACCOUNTS - W. C. "Bob" Fails
Roosevelt Roads

When I was in 251, we had some of the first F4s that were brought to the Marine Corps. Tech Reps were always crawling all over them in the beginning "Like monkeys inspecting a clock". They (F4s) were treated like some kind of new space ship. We lost at least one (maybe two) in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico in 1965 or 1966 when a "remote controlled" drone (an F-9 piloted from a trainer) crashed into our flight line. It was during lunch break, otherwise it would have killed a bunch of our guys (no one even injured). They informed us when a drone was to be landed so there were no aircraft anywhere on the taxiways etc., Since we knew when they were coming in, I watched the whole thing from on top of a trailer (one of our guys thought he was going to save our lives and pushed me off the top, the fall could have killed me and him both) and darn near was involved in what could have been a terrible tragedy. We were always in competition with the squadrons from Cherry Point (VMFA 513, I recall) and we always cleaned their clocks. I recently saw a news article (April 21, 1999) where a bombing mishap occurred in Vieques, Puerto Rico. This is the island about 50 miles East of Puerto Rico where live ordinance is dropped. The aircraft (an F18 from 251) dropped ordinance and killed a civilian security guard and injured four people in the control tower. I spent a lot of time in F4s making runs on Vieques, and can't imagine how this could have happened. If I can get the scanner working here, I'll try to send some photos from when we had "Hot Pad" (loaded with Sparrow III's, rockets and 500 pounders) duty at Rosey Roads to fly close air support for the Marines in order to remove civilians, etc., from the Dominican Republic. It was quite an exciting exercise and never happened, but we were ready.