|#||Designation||Role||Nicknames||Activated (↑)||Deactivated||Aircraft||Commanding Officers||Aces||Notes||Photo||Links|
||VMF-112||Fighter||'Wolf Pack'||1937-01-07||1945-10-09|| Maj. Paul J. Fontana, May 1942 - Mar. 1943 Capt. Robert B. Fraser, Mar. - Jul. 1943 Maj. Herman Hansen, July 1943 Maj. Gregory Boyington, Jul. - Aug. 1943 Maj. Herman Hansen, Aug. 1943 - Aug. 1945 || Jefferson J. DeBlanc, 9 aerial victories Archie Glenn Donahue, 14 Paul John Fontana, 5 Robert B. Fraser, 6 Wayne W. Laird, 5 Joseph P. Lynch, 5.5, also 2 other sqns John B. Maas Jr., 5.5, also VMF-322 Donald C. Owen, 5, also VMF-212 Gilbert Percy, 6 Wallace E. Sigler, 5.3, also VMF-124 Stanley T. "Chief" Synar, 5, also VMF-124 Franklin C. Thomas Jr., 9 || Deploying shortly after to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in their Grumman F4F Wildcats, the Wolfpack joined the Cactus Air Force with Marine Aircraft Group 11. On 31 January 1943 Jefferson J. DeBlanc downed five enemy aircraft in a single mission, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for this action. In recognition of its valor and its contributions to victory during its service on Guadalcanal, VMF-112 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (US) for August 7 – December 9, 1942. VMF-112 was withdrawn from Guadalcanal to Espiritu Santo for a respite. There it began to switch to the Vought F4U-1 Corsair, the aircraft that it would fly for the rest of World War II. VMF-112 returned to the United States on September 5, 1943 and took up duty at MCAS Miramar, outside of San Diego. It was there that VMF-112 was redesignated VMF(CVS)-112, denoting that the squadron was carrier qualified. In December 1944, VMF-112 was assigned to Air Group 82 aboard USS Bennington for its second combat tour. In mid-May 1945, Lieutenant Robert Cook scored the only downing of a barrage balloon by a Marine squadron during the war when he shot one down over Kyūshū. By the completion of World War II, the Wolfpack was credited with the destruction of 140 Japanese aircraft in aerial combat, ranking it third among Marine Corps squadrons in terms of enemy aircraft destroyed. Following the surrender of Japan VMF-112 returned to the United States where it was deactivated on September 10, 1945. First echelon landed at Henderson Field Nov. 3, 1942. VMF-112 was credited with downing 140 enemy aircraft. Transitioned to Corsairs by May 19. ||
||VMF-123||Fighter||'Eight Balls'||1942-07-09||1945-10-09|| F4F-3P Wildcat
FG-1 Corsair || VMF-123 was activated on September 7, 1942 at Camp Kearney. The squadron took delivery of 18 Grumman F4F Wildcats in December of that year. A large percentage of the squadron’s initial pilots came from the experienced VMF-121 hoping it would require them less time to become combat ready. The squadron left the United States on January 8, 1943 and were operating from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal less than a month later, flying their first combat mission on February 4, 1943. Because they were the last of the Marine fighter squadrons to arrive in the Solomon Islands, VMF-123 was the last of these eight squadrons to transition from the Grumman F4F Wildcat to the Vought F4U Corsair. In August 1943, the squadron moved to the new field at Munda in the Central Solomon Islands and flew their first mission from there on August 14, 1943. The arrival on Munda coincided with the landings on Vella Lavella which were constantly under attack from Japanese aircraft based on Bougainville. VMF-123 was one of many squadrons that fought Japanese aircraft for control of the skies over Vella Lavella. The squadron was split up in September 1943 with half remaining on Munda and the other half moving to a field in the Russell Islands. Their last mission in the South Pacific was flown in November 1943 and the squadron returned to the United States on December 14, 1943. VMF-123 spent almost all of 1944 resting and refitting. On December 31, 1944, the squadron, along with VMF-112 boarded the USS Bennington (CV-20) for their third combat tour. During this cruise, which last until June 16, 1945, they participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima, took part in the first carrier strikes against Tokyo since the Doolittle Raid in 1942, and participated in the entire Okinawa Campaign. During their cruise on the USS Bennington the squadron had seven pilots killed in action and five permanently listed as missing in action. Upon their return to the U.S., the squadron was based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Centro where they were teamed with VMTB-623 as they trained for the upcoming invasion of Japan. They were scheduled to deploy on board the USS Saidor (CVE-117) when the war ended. The squadron was deactivated shortly thereafter on September 10, 1945. || |
|History of VMF-123
||VMF-451||Fighter||'Blue Devils'||1944-02-15||1945-10-09||F3A-1 Corsair
FG-1 Corsair||Major Henry A. Ellis Jr||Major Archie Donahue,|| Marine Fighting Squadron 451 (VMF-451) was activated on 15 February 1944 at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave, California. The 'Blue Devils' were one of 32 squadrons that trained at the base, and were collectively known as the "Mojave Marines". Equipped with the Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair, they spent nearly a year training for carrier-based operations under the command of Major Henry A. Ellis Jr., who remained the Commanding Officer for 17 months. The squadron moved on board USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) on 24 January 1945, along with VF-84 and VMF-221. This was the first fast-carrier deployment with three Corsair squadrons. As a new member of CVG-84, collectively known as the 'Wolf Gang', CV-17 sailed westward across the Pacific. They flew their first combat sorties on February 16, against targets near Tokyo. The 'Blue Devils' scored their first kill during the initial combat mission, but also suffered their first casualty. Lieutenant Forrest P. Brown was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, and was last seen floating in the water. On 18 March, they focused their fury on Kyushu, destroying the Myazaki and Omura air fields and bagging another kill. On 3 April, the 'Blue Devils' had a field day in knocking down 11 Japanese planes, and on 12 April, they brought down 16 kamikazes. Major Archie Donahue, the XO, shot down three Vals and two Zekes, thus becoming the first carrier-based Marine 'ace-in-a-day' and adding to the nine previous kills that he scored with VMF-112 in 1943. 11 May was pivotal for VMF-451 and the other 'Wolf Gang' members of Bunker Hill. It started on a positive note, as First Lieutenant J.S. Norris Jr. shot down a Zeke near Amami, bringing VMF-451’s score to 34 confirmed kills. At 1005 hours, Bunker Hill was struck by two kamikazes, each carrying a bomb that was released prior to impact. Bunker Hill immediately began to burn and the smoke attracted more kamikazes. However, none of the suicide planes were able to penetrate the flak, and Bunker Hill was spared any more hits. The flames were eventually extinguished and CV-17 limped back to Ulithi, then Pearl Harbor, and finally arrived for battle-damage repair at Puget Sound, Washington, on 3 June 1945. VMF-451 rejoined the ground echelon at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro to remain until the end of the war. They earned a Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts in the Japan, Bonins and Ryukyus campaigns, and were deactivated on 10 September 1945. || |
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