Bruno Arthur Hochmuth
Major General Bruno Hochmuth, Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division, died when a UH-1E from VMO-3 exploded and crashed 5 miles NW of Hue. Four other men died in the crash.
An anonymous memorial
My father, Gunnery Sergeant David Sharpe, USMC (Ret), was General Hochmuth's orderly during his tour in Vietnam.
It was, of course, 1967, when I learned of the general's death. I was just eight years old, and I remember having the opportunity to go with my mother and three sisters to see my father off for that tour. I still have the picture of a cold, overcast day. I don't recall the base that he flew from, but there is a picture of my sisters, sullen, and one of father's buddies, who was also shipping out.
At the time, I had two brothers in the military - the oldest in the Marines, the second oldest in the Air Force. Both did their tours of Vietnam. My third oldest brother would later join the Marines, and my last brother, the Air Force in the early 70s.
On that day, I was optimstic that my father would return.
An eye infection, and subsequent hospitalization, kept my father from traveling with the general on the fateful day that he was killed in a helicopter crash.
I keep the newspaper article on my father as a reminder of those who didn't come home, and of how life spares other families the greatest hardship of war.
I recently lost my oldest brother. He survived Vietnam, earned a Purple Heart, but died young, in his 50s, of a heart attack. My mother has also passed away.
My father, however, is now 86 years old.
It is on his behalf that I wish to honor General Hochmuth and the other men who died that day, November 14, 1967.
E-mail address is not available.
I was in boot camp at San Diego in September 1964, when General Hochmuth was in command. This is a small anecdote, but it shows the character of a wonderful man.
I, Ray Cordova, was assigned to clean the general's office one morning as part of our training regimen. Some of us were assigned mess duty, others were assigned cleaning duties around the base. I had seen the general on several occasions during my training there, but had never met the man. On this morning, I swept, dusted, polished, etc. and when I finished I saw the general's hat on his desk and couldn't resist putting it on since no-one was around to scold me. I was admiring my new image as "General Cordova" in the mirror in his wall locker when in walked the general himself! I was shocked and knew my career had just come to an abrupt end when he looked at me and said:
I was so embarrassed that I couldn't speak. He then said "Carry on, Marine, you did a good job here".
When I heard about his death a few years later, I cried. He was a wonderful man of great integrity; I'll never forget our chance encounter when he, a man of great power and responsibility, forgave a lowly "boot" for breaking discipline if just for a moment.
Sgt. Greg Cordova, USMC.
From a fellow Marine,
A Great Marine Corps General Died in Vietnam
As a new Mustang Second Lieutenant in Vietnam, I had the privilege and unusual opportunity to work closely with two Commanding Generals of the Third Marine Division. These were Major General Wood B. Kyle from my arrival on 24 August 1966 until he was relieved in a change-of-command ceremony I witnessed on 18 March 1967 by the then Commanding General of III MAF, Lieutenant General Lewis W. Walt. On that day General Walt installed Major General Bruno A. Hochmuth as the new Division Commander. I worked for him until my tour ended on 1 September 1967. By the nature of my assignment as the Division's Assistant Adjutant, and even more so as the Division Awards Officer, I was required to meet often with these Division Commanders, and Chief of Staff, Colonel A. D. Cereghino. While I also have positive memories of working for General Kyle and admired his leadership style, I developed an even closer working relationship with General Hochmuth, to whom I dedicate this writing.
In 1996-1997 The Third Marine Division's Headquarters was based at Phu Bai, about 4-5 miles south of Hue, 35 miles north of Dong Ha, and about 50 miles north of the buffer zone, called both the demarcation line and demilitarized zone (DMZ), which divided North and South Vietnam. In Phu Bai, I especially remember the heavy, sticky mud that made it very difficult not only for vehicles, but also for walking. Vietnam is typically tropical with two main seasons: hot and dry, and hot and wet. The wet season generally begins in mid-April and lasts until mid-October. The rain begins in September and lasts through January.
Marines were entrenched along this DMZ to engage the enemy, stop their infiltration by clearing out guerrilla forces' basic facilities, services and supplies, such as water, rice, and sometimes ammunition, in the villages and hamlets stretching the length of the coastline. Eliminating their long-established infrastructure within each village and hamlet was as important as defeating them in the field. Unlike most other wars, there were really no "front lines" in Vietnam and no "rear areas." The jungles and swamps belonged to whoever occupied them at any given time. I was regularly assigned to nightly patrols as a platoon leader of a Provisional Platoon around our CP perimeter with a force that was responsible for assuring the command's security. I also went on counter-intelligence patrols to nearby hamlets to inspect for enemy infiltration efforts, and to search for their hidden supplies or other provisions.
But my primary duties were assisting the Division's chief administrator, the Adjutant, with the myriad duties involved in supporting a Marine Division in a combat environment. Some of these included casualty reporting, graves registration, troop replacements, discharge boards, and the ultra morale booster, mail services. Ultimately, as the result of the division's increased combat activities that resulted in a very heavy load of award recommendations, I became fully involved with establishing an all-important Award processing program for the division. It was here that I became much more involved with not only the Chief of Staff, but also General Hochmuth. I was an advisor to them, and a voting member of the Division Awards Board. I spent a lot of time on choppers visiting forward area units to find and interview witnesses for the highest level awards, and to assist unit personnel in preparing appropriate award recommendations.
General Hochmuth, who was very easy to work with, was an extraordinary human being and Marine. This tall Texan was then 56 years old (twenty years older than me), was a graduate of Texas A&M, and had already been a Marine for some 30+ years. He had extensive combat experience in World War II where he won two Silver Star Medals. He was quietly religious and well respected by those who knew him. He didn't curse, smoke or drink, and did not have a lot of tolerance for anyone who did, especially if done to extremes. But he was also very understanding of the war situation and the times, and was therefore not overzealous about anything, except the well being of his Marines. He would often invite a small group of officers of various ranks to dine with him in his quarters, such as they were in those rainy mud flats. It was his personal way to get to know his officers better, away from their responsibilities. He also used these opportunities to let us know where he stood on a lot of matters, hoping we would in turn pass that information down the chain of command. He not only inquired as to how we were doing, but also wanted to know about our families. He would even ask if we were writing to our wives, children, parents, and others.
One of the more interesting "additional" assignments Gen. Hochmuth tasked me with was to be the escort officer for celebrities or dignitaries visiting the Division. These visits were informal, "one-on-one" non-staged visits by stars that wanted to go out among the troops to meet them. This was unlike some of the more "formal" USO-type visits of stars where there were either large clubs or stages erected for stars such as Bob Hope, Anita Bryant, Marilyn Monroe and others. Since we were so close to the DMZ, there weren't any large enough clubs or stages in the areas occupied by the Third Marine Division. Clubs were available much further south at primarily Army or Air Force bases in Saigon, Tan Son Nhut, Cam Ranh Bay, DaNang and Chu Lai.
Some of the famous Hollywood stars I had the privilege of escorting around the Division for "handshake" visits to troops in the field, in their hutches and tents: Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Robert Stack, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Wendell Corey. Also a very popular sports figure of that era was Floyd Patterson, the 1952 Olympics middleweight boxing gold medallist who later held the world heavyweight title from 1956 to 1959, and again from 1960 to 1962. Although Patterson was by far the favorite of the troops, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were my favorite, while Wendell Corey was General Hochmuth's favorite. Perhaps this was because Corey was another tall Texan, and about the same age as Hochmuth. He mentioned that Corey had been a television star "hero" of his for a long time, especially for his "Harbor Command" TV series in which he played a Coast Guard Captain. Some of Corey's other many movies and the roles he played were Rear Window (a policeman), Alias Jesse James (Jesse James), Cyborg (a sheriff), and Waco, (a preacher). He also starred on the Westinghouse Playhouse in the early 1960's with Nanette Fabray.
Corey's visit came in August 1967, just a couple of weeks before I would be going home. I thought I was pretty "safe" at that point, until Corey told General Hochmuth he wanted to go out with a recon (reconnaissance) patrol! I said to myself, "you've got to be kidding!" and felt sure the General would veto that "request." But Corey wasn't and General Hochmuth didn't! He "suggested" I take him out in the bush and let him visit with a "recon" patrol. I found a patrol just returning from their mission, and took some extraordinary pictures of Corey with this patrol. Corey himself carried a miniature camera pinned to a collar on his utilities. I know he got some great pictures as well. (On other occasions I also accommodated Actors Robert Stack who wanted to ride in an "Amtrac" (Amphibious Tractor), and Robert Mitchum, who wanted to "go out and see the guys.") General Hochmuth thoroughly enjoyed Wendell Corey's visit, and for a change, his morale was definitely uplifted after Corey's visit to his Third Marine Division.
Sadly, there is no happy ending to this story. Once a week I would climb aboard a helicopter with General Hochmuth to fly to the 1st Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Division Headquarters. We would meet with our counterparts on subjects of mutual interest and coordinate matters related to Vietnamese awards presented to Marine Corps personnel. On 14 November 1967, a little over two months after I left Vietnam, General Hochmuch's helicopter crashed on one of those very same trips I regularly made with him. It was reported that it was an "operational" crash. Perhaps it was, but I would not have been surprised to hear it was shot down, because we flew over hostile areas on those trips. General Hochmuth became the only Marine Corps General to become a casualty of the Vietnam War. For sure, the Corps lost a wonderful man, and an outstanding leader!
From a fellow Marine,
02 March 2007
An update of my above tribute to Gen. Hochmuth, including unique pictures, maps, bios, and movie celebrities mentioned in the story about General Hochmuth, is located here.
I joined the Marine Corps in August 1966. I went through boot-camp at San Diego, California. During that time, our Commanding Officer was Brigadier General Hochmuth.
Anyone going through boot-camp knows the drill when it comes to chow. You "take what you want, but eat all that you take." Meal times for recruits were quite short so once you received your food, you waited for the table to fill up and then the Platoon Sergeant yelled "sit". After that it was just shoveling in all the food you could as fast as you could eat it.
One morning we were eating and someone said to me, "How's the food?" I didn't look up but just said "same as usual." Someone nudged me and I looked into the eyes of BG Hochmuth. I immediately jumped to attention, and he laughed, told me to sit back down and enjoy my meal. That was the closest that I ever came to any General in my four years in the Marine Corps but I always had warm regards for MY Commanding General because he could have handled the situation differently but instead chose to have fun with it.
I was in "Nam" when I read in the STARS & STRIPES that General Huchuth had been shot down in an observation chopper. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. It is a late eulogy (30+ years) but a sincere one.
In the spring of 1964 I was through with boot camp and infantry training at Camp Pendleton. I was attending Sea School at MCRD San Diego. Two other students and I went to the slop chute, and were enjoying our burgers and gedunk. I believe it was Sunday, and no one else was seated at any table.
General Hockmuth, Commanding Officer of MCRD at the time, in uniform, and a middle aged lady and a teenaged lady walked in. We leaped to our feet, they walked to our table, and he asked if they could join us. We were surprised, but what can you say to the CG? My memory falters here, but I believe he introduced the ladies as his wife and daughter. Not sure, but they were two beautiful ladies.
They sat with us, and he asked us about Sea School (we were in what we called undress blues, so he knew we were Sea School students) and we enjoyed their company for quite a while. Small talk about our plans after sea duty, what type ship we hoped to go on, etc. He seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say.
I will never forget this gentleman. He seemed to be personable and humble, not at all what I thought the Commanding General would be. I was sincerely proud to be in his command after this meeting.
I was fortunate to attend a recruit graduation in September 2005 at MCRDSD, along with other members of the United States Seagoing Marine Association, and was pleased to note that they have named a main boulevard after this truly great Marine.
Sgt. Leon L. Clark
I went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego in 1965.
While eating lunch one day we recruits were visited by General Hochmuth.
I did not talk with him but he treated us very well and was sincerely interested in our welfare.
He was the first and best General Officer I ever met.
My first tour of duty in the Navy was as a general medical officer at MCRD in San Diego in 1957. Since I was responsible for "Officer Sick Call" I had the opportunity to meet General Hochmuth, who was then a Colonel and was second in command at the base. Since he was the highest ranking officer that I had ever seen or spoken to, I was unnerved - but only briefly. He was so friendly and cordial that I was immediately relaxed.
A few months later his father, who was visiting from Texas, suddenly became ill. I was able to make arrangements for his care at nearby Mercy Hospital. Several months later I was invited to a party at Colonel Hochmuth's home. I was honored and thrilled.
During a visit to San Diego several years after General Hochmuth's death, my wife and I called on Mrs. Hochmuth at her home in Point Loma in San Diego. We reminisced over photos and memorabilia related to his career and their life. She mentioned that he frequently joked about his losing his hair at a relatively young age. She was as kind and gracious as he.
The Marine Corps has every right to be proud of that couple.
D. M. Mrvos, M.D.
From a friend,
I met the General while in boot camp, Platoon 3003, 1964. I was by myself running down the street to do something for the DI when I saw a black car with red "general" stars on it coming at me. I stopped at attention and the General got out, shook my hand, asked my name and how I was doing. I never forgot that.
He didn't have any arrogance about him - just a calm, assuring demeanor. It was a memorable experience!
From an ex-Marine,
Notes from The Virtual WallSix men were killed when their UH-1E (BuNo 153757) crashed and burned:
Major General Hochmuth was the most senior officer to die in Vietnam.
Bruno Hochmuth was graduated from Texas A&M College and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, U. S. Army Reserve, in June 1935. He promptly resigned his Army commission in order to accept a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Between 1936 and 1940, Hochmuth served with the 4th and 6th Marines in China. In February 1941, he deployed with the 7th Defense Battalion to American and British Samoa. He remained in the Pacific Theater for two years, returning to the United States in March 1943. In May 1944, Major Hochmuth deployed again to the Pacific Theater as Assistant Operations Officer, 3d Marine Amphibious Corps, and participated in the Saipan and Tinian campaigns. He commanded 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, in the Okinawa campaign, and was Executive Officer of the 4th Marines when they landed in Japan on August 29, 1945.
Between his return to the United States in August 1947 and his assignment as Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division, in March 1967, Hochmuth served in a series of administrative, troop command, and senior staff billets in the United States and the Pacific Ocean area. Between November 1963 and February 1967 he was the Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.
Major General Hochmuth was buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California, on November 18, 1967.
During his career he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal; the Legion of Merit with Combat "V"; the Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Purple Heart with Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star indicative of a second award; the China Service Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal with one bronze star; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star; the Vietnamese National Order 5th Class; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
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