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DEATH RATTLERS

VMF323

(MARINE FIGHTER SQUADRON)

(WORLD WAR II)


 
This site has been dedicated to the Original Commanding Officer and to all of the original members who from the day of  inception in early 1943 under the guidance of Major George C. Axtell. Major Axtell demanded professionalism in both the pilots and all members within the squadron, discipline was direct and training was constant.  A squadron which when into combat set many records and a multitude of aces.  Today although all of the personnel have changed many times over VMF-323 still lingers on into the new millennium and now is called VMFA-323 and the home "port" is Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. 

 
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Major George C. Axtell Jr. - July 1945 
Lt. Gen. George C. Axtell - August 31, 1974 

Please visit the deceased of those   KIA WWII


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Please excuse the changes that appear quite frequently as this site being under construction is making changes to the members list as they are received and this has been often in the past several weeks. I would like to thank Harley Brock and Bob Muse for their assistance I also would like to thank Jim Barrett for supplying so many lost names from the ordinance department of those surviving and of those whom have passed on.  Under the leadership of LtGen. Axtell still at the helm as our Commanding Officer along with the many long hours of recruiting by Roger Archambault we have begun to regroup.  Any viewers knowing of a member alive or deceased from this era, please contact Roger Archambault at home (413)323-4465.   Though far and few they are emerging slowly and what is remarkable is than they are in their 70's and 80's.

VMF-323 who have passed away


Surviving Members of the Original Death Rattlers


Squadron Reunions


The Snake

There has been many stories as the years have passed by of the origin of the snake and I am sure that even today there are varied stories.  The present Squadron has a live snake and is kept in the "Snake Pit" which is located within the Squadron offices at MCAS, Miramar.

Sorry I (Art Kamp) haven't gotten back to you sooner. Chemo has not left me too well this month. So, between Chemo, age, and other factors, you will have to forgive my short memory in the birth of the VMF 323 Squadron patch. Let me get to it: It was a very nice day in October, 1943 Butch 0' Hare and I were returning from New Bern to the base. Several miles from the base we ran over a six foot rattle snake. I stopped the car to look at it when an old farmer standing by the road cane up to me said, "Would you like to have that snake gutted?I said, OK and he gave me the phone number of the fellow who would do this. He picked up the snake and brought it to his friend. Several days later, I called and went over to pick up the skin. I think he charged me $5.00 for the job. I brought back the skin and it was hung up on an upright post in our ready room. 

A few days later someone suggested that we should use the rattle snake as a part of a squadron insignia. I then drew up a round sketch showing a coiled rattle snake in the center and VMF 323 above and "Death Rattler" below. What happened after that is a complete loss in my memory.


 
For those interested in reading more in depth of VMF-323 there is a book which has been written and published by Dr. William Wolf.  The book is available on the internet through Barnes and Noble at a very substantial savings.  The book is selling for $34.96 a savings of 30%.  The address for this is www.bn.com

FOR COMMENTS I CAN BE CONTACTED AT: reddok@comcast.net

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