John Bunce McHale

First Lieutenant
VMFA-115, MAG-11, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
28 February 1943 - 26 October 1965
New York, New York
Panel 02E Line 136



Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Bunce McHale

14 Jan 2000

John McHale was piloting an F-4 Phantom jet fighter when he died.

The casualty database incorrectly states he was a helicopter pilot.

A memorial from a wingmate,
Thomas Hill

11 Jun 2007

The lead crew was Tebow and Petty, the wing crew was McHale and Gendebien.
This information was submitted by Philip Monteleone, who was the crew chief on McHale's aircraft.

From a friend,
Thomas A. Hill

03 Apr 2005

I remember the night, 26 Oct 1965, that McHale and Tebow's F-4s crashed into Marble Mountain at Danang. Most of the squadron was watching a movie (Spencer's Mountain) at the outdoor facility at our compound which we affectionately called "Dogpatch". I can remember the explosions as the two aircraft hit the top of Marble Mountain, that we thought we were under attack from the VC. As I remember it, Tebow had one of his engines shot out by ground fire and cut his approach short which took him over Marble Mountain instead of around the mountain for his base leg and final approach. The two planes were flying in close formation and both hit the mountain at the same time.

McHale was only 22 but he seemed so much older in combat, I remember I had just turned 20 myself. Tebow was a mustang, having come up thru the ranks. I can remember before VMFA-115 was deployed to Viet-nam, we all served together at MCAS Cherry Point, NC. I recall that on our deployment to Boca Chica, Florida, in the keys that we were on "hot pad" duty, which was flying missions between Florida and Cuba. Tebow encountered a MiG flying in close proximity to the 12 mile limit and wanted so bad to engage the MiG in an air-to-air exchange. Permission was denied which so upset Bill Tebow that he flew over downtown Miami so low that windows were shattered. He was grounded after that incident and was later re-instated because we were deployed to Vietnam, and a man of his stature and experience would be needed for what was to come in Vietnam. I can still see McHale and Tebow walking out to their F-4's on numerous occasions. I wish they hadn't walked out to those planes on 26 Oct 1965.

Semper Fi,

From a friend,
William J. Davis, USMC
VMFA-115, VMFA-323, VMFA-542
556 Linley Trace, Lawrenceville, Ga 30043

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 lost two aircraft (F-4Bs 149410 and 150998) and four men on 26 October 1965:
  • Capt William J. Tebow, pilot, 45, McBean, GA
  • 1stLt William R. Gendebien, radar intercept officer, 24, Barto, PA
  • 1stLt John B. McHale, pilot, 22, New York, NY
  • CWO John R. Petty, radar intercept officer, 35, Gallatin, TN
Available information doesn't indicate which crewmen were in which aircraft. As noted in Mr. Hill's memorial above, most casualty databases incorrectly report the four men were lost in helicopter rather than fixed-wing crashes.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 14 Jan 2000
Last updated 08/10/2009