60 years ago this Oct. was the blockade of Cuba, I was there with VMA 225

This October will mark sixty years since as a young Lance Corporal, MOS 6511 (aviation ordnance) attached to the “Vagabonds” VMA 225, MAG 14, 2Nd MAW ,based at MCAS Cherry Point NC we received orders for our squadron to deploy to the USS Enterprise CVAN-65 which was steaming south off the Atlantic coast toward Cuba to take part in the blockade of Cuba due to the Cuban missile crises. We would become the first Marine squadron to serve aboard a nuclear powered carrier. We were deployed from Oct. 20 to Dec. 9 1962
Our pilots flew our A4D-2N Skyhawks onboard & we arrived via COD (carrier onboard delivery) aircraft, I will never forget as we banked to lineup for approach, looking out the window & seeing the Enterprise looking like a postage stamp on the water and the lump coming up in my throat thinking there was no way they could land on a ship that small. As a Kansas farm boy I had never seen a ship or flown over or onto an aircraft carrier.
We spent the first three days configuring our Skyhawks with external stores racks & arming them with 250 pound general purpose bombs on multiple bomb racks, Zuni rockets, Sidewinder, bull pup & Shrike missiles plus 20 mm cannon rounds depending on the mission assignment for each aircraft. If I remember correctly our ordinance crew was operating on pure adrenaline the first three days as we got about three hours sleep total that first three days.
After the crises ended we flew training missions off the carrier & I got to take some photos onboard before steaming home.
Respectfully Submitted
Cpl. Dave Leiber
USMC 1960-1964

Submit your own Story>>

9 thoughts on “60 years ago this Oct. was the blockade of Cuba, I was there with VMA 225”

  1. Semper Fi. ‘62-‘66. VMFA 323, Cherry Point ‘64-66. Operation PowerPack, Dominican Republic, 1965.

  2. I was on LSD Fort Snelling. All enlistments had been extended for the crisis, and there were some really surly troops on board who were supposed to be out, but they got over it.

  3. Great remembrance and story, Dave!! I distinctly remember being a high school Junior in my 1st hour World History class at Enid HS when the teacher told us of President Kennedy’s address the previous evening. The teacher was also our football coach, so the class was usually my chance to catch up on much needed sleep while his student assistant showed films (I worked two after school jobs). But that day was completely different, everyone was awake and alert as the Coach lectured us on the importance of this moment in history. The coach was also a WWII Marine veteran who had participated in both the Saipan and Okinawa operations. That morning I committed myself to quit high school and enlist in the service if we should happen to go on to war.

    Thanks to you, Dave, and many other brave young people at that time, I stayed in school and graduated with my class in 1964. Thanks brother!!! Semper Fi!!! Top Pro

  4. Dave,
    During the crisis I was at sea on my first overseas deployment. We had departed San Diego aboard the USS George Clymer (APA 47 I think). We were told she was the oldest ship in the Navy-she still had the wood deck. We were en route to Japan as regularly scheduled aviation replacement troops. When the embargo started we did not know whether we were going to continue west or head south. We circled for a day or two while the Navy sorted it out. We continued on to Pearl where we changed ships (USS Pickaway AKA 222)and continued on our journey with about 600 other Marines headed for Okinawa. IYAOYAS!

    1. Hi, Dave!
      May have you beat: USS Chilton, APA38. We called it the Tiltin’ Chilton!

    2. I was on the USS Pickaway at that time. Got on in San Diego and was part of the replacement Marines for Delta 2-12.

    3. Rode the George Clymer from Oki to Chu Lai in early ’66 with H-2-5. Great looking craft…Sure beat the Bexar from Long Beach to the Rock!!!

  5. Thank you Marine for that story. I served from 01/70 to 07/77. I returned from Okinawa in 1972 and was assigned to the vagabonds now designated as VMA-324 in Beaufort, SC. The vavabonds were now devil dogs. I remembering painting the new design on many planes. I worked in the sheetmetal shop and the squadron was now flying M models. I went on many deployments. The squadron was never home in Beaufort for more than maybe 3 weeks. In 1975, I rejoined the squadron , but now it was designated as
    VMA-214 Blacksheep squadron at El Toro, Calif. still flying M models. In 1976, the SNCO’s were invited to attend the Officer’s Marine Corps ball. I went and there is where I met Pappy Boyington. He was quite a guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.