Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay -- Service members of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24, Marine Aircraft Group 24 have completed work on one of two aircrafts near the Pacific War Memorial, on an ongoing project, which began April 15.
“It was a very long, very challenging project,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas A. Haan, power plants, leading petty officer, MALS-24, MAG-24. “The F-4 was in worse condition than what the F-8 is in now. There was corrosion that went all the way through the plane. You could fit your fist in through these holes and see from one side of the aircraft through the other. I was just in really bad shape.”
According to Haan, the Marines and Sailors put in a lot of hours restoring the first aircraft after work, because they had a lot obstacles to work through.
The MALS-24 Warriors spent a lot of time trimming, fabricating, installing new parts, and painting the aircraft through inclement weather and ceremonies.
“We all work on this project whenever we have the time to, which is usually after work or during lunch,” said Haan. “Being in Hawaii where it rains all the time and the location of the aircraft did prove to pose a challenge. We had to work around ceremonies, which are held at the Pacific War Memorial, and every time it rained we couldn’t work on it because the wind would come in and start blowing the paint away from the spot we were painting because it was spray paint.”
Though Haan said it has been challenging fixing the aircraft, he looks forward to the completion of both aircrafts because they will help remind service members why they are in the military.
The planning of restoring these aircrafts to how they looked like back in the 1970s began in February when Lt. Col. Robert Krekel, commanding officer, MALS-24, got together with representatives from his squadron to decide what community services MALS-24 would participate in this year.
Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 participates in such community services such as the Adopt-A-School program, but Krekel said he wanted to do something that really gave back to the base, but mostly the history of MAG-24.
“This is my third tour with MAG-24,” said Krekel. “I was here the first time with (Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212), and the two airplanes next to the Pacific War Memorial were two kinds of aircrafts that they flew during Vietnam. I wanted to revamp them to preserve the history of MAG-24. It was kind of a personal goal of mine.”
The two aircrafts will feature decals of the squadrons that they belong to as well as the names of a few pilots that went down in Vietnam, said Krekel.
The F-8 will feature the names of Capt. Benjamin L. Tebault and 1st Lt. Michael J. Konow who both flew in Vietnam and were shot down and killed during a flight.
The F-4J will feature the names of Capt. John W. Consolvo Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer 3 James J. Castonguay who received enemy fire during a flight and brought down. Castonguay was able to eject and make it to safety, while Consolvo is still considered missing in action.
“It’s important to honor these heroes that flew over Vietnam,” said Krekel. “We did a lot of research just so the aircrafts look similar to what they looked like back then. I have been in contact with the families of these Marines to let them know what we are doing and to get a little history about them. We hope to have base facilities insert plaques next to the planes to tell the story of these flights. We want to remember these people who fought and gave their lives and to preserve history.”
The reconstruction of the F-8 is scheduled to be complete in mid-September.