NAS GROSSE ILE
IN THE 60's

THE 60s at NAS Grosse Ile, The Last Decade

The last base Commanders

1961-63 Capt. A.J. Schultz, Jr. USN
1963-65 Capt. N.R. Lincoln, Jr. USN
1965-67 Capt. R.K. Brown USN
1967-69 Capt. C.G. Hathaway USNR
1969 - *  Capt. George Koen USN

*Completed tour at NAF Detroit

With the base assignment changing in the late 50s to an ASW mission the base was assigned aircraft like the P2Vs and S2Fs.  The link training building was converted from link training to ASW instruction with the addition of  ASW simulators.

The air station entered its last decade on a $10 million installation covering 604 acres devoted to training over 2000 Navy and Marine Reservists from the Midwest, and a station keeping force around 300 regular and active duty reserve Navy and Marines.

But without longer runways it would be her last decade as a Naval installation.  Something had to be done so the training would meet the needs of the Navy of the future.  The obvious answer would be to move, since expansion had been blocked by the Grosse Ile Township board.

1 February 1960 Lt. Donald Rumsfeld USNR came on board assigned to VS-731 to drill weekend until 31 October 1960 when he transferred to Glenview. Later he would retire as a Captain and finally become Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration.

The summer of 1960 brought an omen of the future: the old balloon hangar had outlived its usefulness and was taken down.  Part of the hanger would be used to build a bowling alley in nearby Trenton which was still in use in the early 70s when I paid a visit to the Detroit area.

1961 would bring the world closer to another world war with the construction of the Berlin Wall.  Grosse Ile would be called to activate VS-733 along with 17 other Naval Air Reserve squadrons from around the nation.  October 1 VS-733 was activated and soon departed for NAS South Weymouth.  VS-733 would perform anti-submarine duties in the Atlantic flying the Grumman S2 Tracker until its return in July of the following year.  VS-733 was formed at NAS Grosse Ile in April 1958.  At the time the squadron was activated it was commanded by Commander James E. Walley, of Fort Wayne, Ind.  He was president of the Maumee Valley Seed Service, Inc.; served active duty in World War II and the Korean conflict.  Was married with two children and held the Navy Cross.  Distinguished Flying Cross and three air medals.  This was the second time in ten years the reservist from the air station had been activated.

In December 1961 Grosse Ile's GCA  28 met another milestone in its history with the 50,000th GCA landing.  The approach director was B. N. Racheff AC2 and the final controller was Lloyd W. Erb AC3.  The historic landing was made by one of the bases own S2F aircraft.  Lt. Stephen A. Balogh was the pilot of VS-732s aircraft know to the GCA as Navy 185.  Filling out the crew were co-pilot LCDR Donald E. Bosack, radar operator Keith R. McDonald AE2, and electronic counter measures operator Lawrence G. Leighton AO2.

In early 1962 the United States Coast Guard assigned an experimental Coast Guard unit to NAS Grosse Ile that was located at the lower base Seaplane/boathouse moorings. They had a houseboat for living quarters and a forty foot patrol craft which was the same as the Navy Charlie crash boat. This 4 man crew would only be assigned for a short time and by the following year the Coast Guard was no longer at Grosse Ile. Click here for more details.
 

GROSSE ILE NAVAL RESERVE AVIATION SQUADRON 1962

COMMANDING OFFICERS  UNIT
CAPT. B.A. Linsday A WS 73L
CDR. J.O. Northcraft ASSISTANT A WS 73L
CDR. N. Walinski ASSISTANT A WS 73L
CDR. K.M. Glass ASSISTANT A WS 73L
CDR. C.D. Grubb VA 731
CDR. C.C. Rock VA 732
CDR. L.D. Hornberger HS 731
CDR. A. M. Bezian HS 732
CDR. F.E. Koehler HS 733
CDR. W.J. Neth HS 734
CDR. J.J,. Reardon NARMU 731
CDR. R.A. Gallant NARMU 735
CDR. W.A. Small NAIRU  731
CDR. G.A. Drennon NAIRU 732
CDR. J.B. Looker WEPTU 731
CDR. W.N. Foster WEPTU 732
CDR. B.E. Despelder WEPTU 733
LCDR. C.D. Rowland VR 731
CDR. B.W. Fry VR 732
CDR. V. Ciungan VR 733
CDR. W.A. Dill VR 734
CDR. W.L. Lowry VS 731
CDR. J.J. Raquepau VS 732
CDR. J.E. Walley VS 733
CDR. E.L. Burroughs VS 734
CDR. V.H. Petersen VS 735
LCDR. A.F. Wilhelm VS 736
LCDR. A.E. Katz NARDIV 731

On September 3, 1962, over 100,000 people came aboard the air station to celebrate the air stations 35th birthday.  This Labor Day celebration featured the Blue Angels and Dick Scham "The Flying Professor" in a Cub performing some fantastic stunts.  The base was proud to show off their 604 acre modern Naval Air Station valued at more than ten million dollars.

 

NAS GROSSE ILE SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICERS - 1964 

SQUADRONS

COMMANDING OFFICERS

Air Wing Staff 73 (L)

Capt. N. Walinski
Attack Squadrons  

VA 731

CRD. C.D. Grubb

VA 732

CDR. C. Friedemann
Anti-Submarine Squadrons  
VS 731 CDR S. Napolitano
VS 733 CDR. J.E. Walley
VS 734 CDR. C.R. Davis
VS 735 CDR. W.A. McColl
VS 736 CDR. A. Wilhelm

Transport Squadrons

 
VR 731 CDR. E.J. Rozsypal
VR 732 CDR. B.W. Fry
VR 733 CDR. V. Ciungan
VR 734  CDR. W.A. Dill

Helicopter Squadrons

 
HS 731 CRD. L.D. Hornberger
HS 732 CDR. A.M. Bezian
HS 733 CDR. F.E. Koehler
HS 734 CDR. W.J. Neth

Maintenance Units

 
NARMU 731 CDR. J.J. Reardon
NARMU 735 CDR. R.A. Gallant

Ground Units

 
NAIRU 731 CDR. R.C. Rasmussen
NAIRU 732 CDR. G.A. Drennen
WEPTU 731 CDR. J.B. Looker
WEPTU 732 CDR. R.T. Martin
WEPTU 733 CDR. J.S. Ladendorf
NARDIV 731 LCDR N. Nortz

A major reorganization within Marine Aviation in 1962 started. This reorganization coincided with the formation of the 4th Marine Division in reserve. Changes included reactivation of MAG-46. On July 1, 1962, Marine Aircraft Group 46 was reborn at NAS Grosse Ile. The unit was formally assigned to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in February, 1965, after that organizations reactivation.

The MAG-46 headquarters remained in Grosse Ile until November 1, 1965 when it moved to Brooklyn, New York

July, 1965, Naval Air Station Grosse Ile made another contribution.  Without fanfare all the  AD Skyraiders were transferred to the West coast.  These aircraft the most effective ground support aircraft in the Navy's arsenal at the time and they were in very short supply and high demand in Vietnam.  This was the last major contribution by the air station in.

A small footnote to NAS Grosse IIe for the 1960's.  As a Naval Sea Cadet of the Richmond K. Turner Division (Broadhead Naval Armory), we did a two week "Boot Camp"  at the air station in 1966.  For the years that I was a Sea Cadet, we spent many a weekned at the facility.  Many of the Sea Cadets went on the join the Navy and Marine Corps and serve there country during Viet Nam and beyond.  Website was veruy informational!  I will have to come by the airport the next time I get to Michigan. -- Charles W. Driest LtCol USMC (Ret)

This was the last major contribution by the air station in. In 1964 DOD had decided the base would be decommissioned by September 1967.  There was an extension and the date was moved to July 1969.  This date also came and passed.  The final move was made to Selfridge Air Force Base in November of 1969.

The last year at Grosse Ile was a busy one.  In December 1968 the Marines received the OV-10A and in the same month the old seaplane hanger was lost to fire along with the fire departments crash boat and a number of pleasure craft.

During the summer of '69 there were several concerts known as the "Battle of the Bands" held for the local teens in the main hangar of the air station.

Also, even while the confusion of a move was going on, NASGI earned "The Chief of Naval Training Trophy" for the fiscal year 1969.  Below is a list of the  Naval Air Reserve Forces and their commanding officer that were assigned at the time of the Change of Command just prior to the decommissioning of the base in 1969.

NARS Y1 Commander Capt. F. F. Tallian
NARS Y1 Chief of Staff Capt. E. G. Rozsypal
VR62Y1 Cdr. J. D Schlosser
VR62Y2 Cdr. R. F. Golden
VR1Y3 LCdr. K. B. Gape
VS22Y3  Cdr. H. Rolka
VS22Y4 Cdr. E. G. Zipp
VS64Y1 Cdr. F. T. Gamble
VS64Y2 Cdr. D. T. Zeithamal
HS66Y2 Cdr. R. G. Wilson
HS1Y1 Cdr. G. Thibault
NARDIV Y1 Cdr. M. R. Tata
NARDIV Y2 LCdr. J. B. Moring
NARMU Y1 Cdr. R. W. McCort
NARMU Y2 Cdr. C. W. Crowe
NAIRU Y1 Cdr. J. E. Muma
NAIRU Y2 Cdr. W. C. Bolin
NASRU Y1 Cdr. J. R. Wolfersbergr
OPCON Y1 Cdr. C. B. Copeland
OPCON Y2 Cdr. E. D. McMichael, Jr
OPCON Y3 Cdr. D. R. Cavileer

After 40 years there was the move back to Selfridge as a tenant.  The new activity was designated Naval Air Facility Detroit. During it's forty years the only branch of the military not assigned to Grosse Ile was the USAF.

So came a quiet end of NAS Grosse Ile, MI.  A small security force comprised mostly of the military personal of the fire department remained until the base would be turned over to Grosse Ile Township to be used as a local airport.  I was lucky enough to be part of the fire department and was able to remain at Grosse Ile until January 1970 when I was assigned to NAF Detroit.


Copyright 2000NASGIVM  All rights reserved.
Revised: May 14, 2014