May–June 2003

NAVAL AVIATION NEWS

MARINE AVIATION:

A GLOBAL PRESENCE

NAVAL AVIATION NEWS

May–June 2003

NAVAL AVIATION NEWS

The U.S. Navy’s Oldest Periodical, Established 1917

Volume 85, No. 4

May–June 2003

F L A G S H I P P U B L I C A T I O N O F N A V A L A V I A T I O N

C o n t e n t s

8 The Future of Marine Corps Aviation

10 HMM-161 (Rein): Aviation Combat

Element at the Ready

18 Nightmares in Afghanistan

22 Medal of Honor Series:

Always Faithful

24 VMGR-152:

Backbone of the Pacific

F e a t u r e s

28 Hank Caruso’s Sketchbook:

Semper Fly!

32 Marine Corps Aviation Around

the Globe

42 Marine Corps Aeronautical

Organization

45 An Ace Among Aces

46 Korean War Series:

A Marine Aviator’s View of the

Korean Conflict

COVERS—Front: Rick Llinares shot two Marine AH-1W Super Cobras popping off flares over

rugged terrain. Back: Capt. Michael J. Black of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161

(Reinforced) climbs into the cockpit of his AV-8B Harrier II on board Tarawa (LHA 1) in the Arabian

Gulf in February 2003. Photo by Wendy Leland. This page: Mike Wilson photographed a trio of

Marine EA-6B Prowlers from Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons 1, 2 and 4 flying

through stormy weather over the Atlantic.

De p a r t m e n t s

4 Grampaw Pettibone

6 Airscoop

50 People–Planes–Places

56 Professional Reading

ibc Flightbag/ANA Photo Contest

2

RAdm. Mike McCabe

Director, Air Warfare

Published by the Naval Historical Center under the

auspices of the Chief of Naval Operations

Dr. William S. Dudley

Director, Naval Historical Center

Staff

Sandy Russell Editor

Wendy Leland Managing Editor

Morgan I. Wilbur Art Director

JO1(SW) Ed Wright Assistant Editor

JO2 Dan Ball Assistant Editor

Associates

Hal Andrews Technical Advisor

Cdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) Book Review Editor

Capt. R. Rausa, USNR (Ret.) Contributing Editor

Capt. Ted Wilbur, USNR (Ret.) Contributing Artist

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NAVAL

AVIATIONNEWS

As we went to press, Operation Iraqi

Freedom had commenced. While this

issue is dedicated to USMC aviation, we

salute all members of the Navy-Marine Corps

team in their efforts to liberate the Iraqi

people from tyranny, while defending

American sovereignty.

PH3 Todd

Frantom

Right, a Marine Attack

Squadron 214 Blacksheep

pilot performs preflight

checks on his AV-8B Harrier II

for a night mission staging

from Kuwait on 21 March in

support of Operation Iraqi

Freedom. Below, an F/A-18C

Hornet loaded with a 500-

pound GBU-12 guided bomb

moves into position while

another launches from Kitty

Hawk (CV 63), operating in

the Arabian Gulf with

coalition forces.

Sgt. C. Nuntavong

Whirling Whirlybird

A USMC UH-1N “Huey”

with two pilots and a crew chief

on board was practicing

emergency landing pattern

work. The helicopter was at the

180-degree position and was

cleared for an autorotation to

touchdown. The aircraft was

500 feet abeam at 1,000 feet

altitude and 80 knots airspeed.

Normal parameters were

maintained in the autorotation

until reaching the 90-degree

position.

The aircraft commander

cautioned the copilot, who was

at the controls, that airspeed had

decreased below 65 knots. The

copilot lowered the nose sharply to

regain airspeed. The aircraft was

now 45 degrees nose down and out

of balanced flight (the ball was out

to the right) with the rate of descent

increasing to 400 feet per minute.

The copilot commenced a waveoff

with the help of the pilot who rolled

the throttles to full open. Although

the rate of descent decreased, the

helo struck the runway 300 feet

short of the threshold with the nose

level and the collective at maximum.

The “Huey” bounced into the air,

completing 180 degrees of rotation,

touched down again just short of the

runway edge, bounced once more

into the air in a nose-high attitude

and traveled another 100 feet before

the tail rotor struck the ground. This

impact severed one half of one tail

rotor blade and damaged the tail

rotor drive shaft.

The helicopter rotated 360 more

degrees and traveled another 220

feet until hitting the ground in a

level attitude. The tail boom sheared

and the main rotor blade struck the

ground, spinning the fuselage 180

degrees and rolling it over on its

side. The main rotor came to rest 26

feet from the fuselage.

When all motion ceased, the

throttles were closed and the

crew egressed through the

pilot’s door. They sustained

first-aid injuries.

Grampaw Pettibone

says:

What a wild ride! Gramps

is happy no one got seriously

hurt, but the old UH-1N took

a beating it didn’t deserve.

The copilot lowered the nose

too steeply at low altitude

and at a critical time in the

maneuver, a situation made

worse by the unbalanced flight

and high angle-of-bank

condition—signposts for trouble.

The aircraft commander had

flown a satisfactory flight the day

before with the copilot who, in the

past, had experienced difficulty

with practice autorotations and

lacked experience in the aircraft.

Had the aircraft commander more

closely monitored control inputs

by the copilot he might have

helped prevent the mishap. But

the basic cause of the wild ride

was the copilot’s loss of situational

awareness. And losing that, down

close to Mother Earth, can be

4 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 5

Blow the Man Down

One fine morning a ZS2G-1 airship became airborne on a

routine patrol flight from its East Coast base. The wind was calm, with

broken clouds at 9,000 feet. The takeoff run was uneventful, but during the

climb at about 200 feet altitude the crew felt a violent jolt in the controls. The airship

began orbiting to the left, still climbing, with no apparent response to rudder control.

The airship commander declared an emergency, ordered both bomb bay fuel tanks

jettisoned, and decided to attempt an immediate landing. Using offset power on the engines to

maintain some directional control, a circling landing approach was made. The airship hit hard. The

landing gear collapsed as the airship struck soft terrain, some fuel cells were ruptured, and the prop

sheared from the port engine. The starboard engine also struck the ground and suffered sudden stoppage.

The airship bounced and ascended rapidly to about 800 feet, a free balloon. The pilot tried to descend by

“valving” helium. This was partially successful, but super heating under the hot sun caused ascent again.

A helicopter attempted to aid in descent of the airship by hovering overhead and forcing it down with rotor wash.

With this assist the airship descended to 500 feet, leveled off, and the crew manned abandon-ship stations. The airship

drifted under some low clouds, getting a cooling effect that caused it to descend at 150 feet per minute. The crew then

unsuccessfully tried to rip the bag. The “abandon ship” order was given and the crew escaped on dragging lines via

several exits from heights that varied from 20 to 60 feet above ground.

The crewless airship free-ballooned for the next three hours on a busy airway and finally crashed in a remote area 20

miles from home base.

Grampaw Pettibone says:

Shades of the Shenandoah! These fellers just plain forgot they had a mighty fine balloon to ride in and

panicked!

If they’d valved helium and settled her in real easy at the beginning, treated the airship like a free balloon

and not tried to stick it in the ground under power like a dart, they’d have made out better. One thing they

had was time. The ship wasn’t damaged, engines were operating normally, with plenty of fuel aboard, and

the bag was intact. Weather was no problem.

Way back in September 1925, VAdm. Charles E. Rosendahl, then a lieutenant, successfully freeballooned

the floating nose section of the airship Shenandoah from 10,000 feet to earth after the

giant dirigible broke in half during a storm. In those days, we had only two large airships and

lighter-than-air personnel were regarded as a breed apart, highly qualified and motivated

professionals. I’d sure hate to think the breed was thinning out.

Abandoning ship as hastily as was done in this case doesn’t follow the fine

past traditions of lighter-than-air men. It’d seem that there was plenty of

time left to figure out the best not the fastest way of getting the ship

down.

What caused the jolt was under investigation.

Gramps from Yesteryear

MH-60R Testing

Continues

During testing at the Atlantic

Undersea Test and Evaluation

Center, the MH-60R helicopter

testing program logged its first

shipboard landing, on board

Gettysburg (CG 64), and the first

in-flight launch of a sonobuoy. The

Romeo modification also located a

submarine using airborne lowfrequency

sonar while conducting

a surface radar sweep using the

multimode radar and electronic

surveillance measures.

Last E-6A leaves

Tinker

By TACAMO Public Affairs Office

On 4 February 2003, the Navy

and Strategic Communications Wing

1 marked the end of an era as the

last E-6A Mercury aircraft, above

right, left Tinker Air Force Base,

Okla., following a ceremony

honoring the aircraft’s final flight.

Tail number 409 is the last of 16

E-6As to undergo modifications to

become an E-6B.

Aircraft 409 was the last

TACAMO aircraft to be solely

dedicated to the mission of sending

messages to Trident missile

submarines. Once the 10-month

modifications are completed it will

be able to communicate with all of

the strategic forces, including

bombers, ICBM missile silos and

Trident missile submarines.

The upgrades include the addition

of a battlestaff area, installation of

the MILSTAR satellite communications

system and incorporation of

the UHF Command, Control and

Communications system. “These

added systems will allow a

6 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

AIRSCOOP

Edited by Wendy Leland

A Naval Air Systems Command MH-60R conducts an airborne low-frequency

sonar operation during three weeks of testing in the Caribbean.

Iwo Jima (LHD 7), above, and ships of her amphibious ready group—Nashville (LPD

13) and Carter Hall (LSD 50)—began a regularly scheduled deployment in March, with

the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) embarked.

PH2 Benjamin Hammond

battlestaff composed of members

from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy

and Air Force to send messages to

all of America’s nuclear forces,

including strategic bombers, ICBM

missile silos and, of course,

submarines,” explained Capt.

Gerald Geletzke, Commander,

Strategic Communications Wing 1.

The upgrade program is the result

of the additional role that the Navy

E-6B took over on 1 October 1998

when the E-6B replaced the Air

Force’s EC-135 in performing the

“Looking Glass” missions, which

had been flown by the Air Force for

the previous 29 years.

Mishaps

On 17 January, an F/A-18C

Hornet of Strike Fighter Squadron

25 suffered Class A damage after

departing the runway on rollout in

Australia.

A Marine All-Weather Fighter

Attack Squadron 224 F/A-18D

Hornet was lost over the southern

California operations area on 17

January, with no fatalities.

On 22 January two AH-1W Super

Cobras of Marine Light Attack

Helicopter Squadron 775 collided

during operations at Laredo

International Airport, Texas. The

pilots and copilots of both aircraft

were killed.

An F-14D Tomcat of Fighter

Squadron 213 crashed during

operations with Theodore Roosevelt

(CVN 71) near Puerto Rico on 26

January. The aircrew ejected safely

and were recovered.

On 11 February, an E/A-6B

Prowler of Electronic Attack

Squadron 129 was lost at sea

following an arrested landing on

board John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in

the southern California operations

area. The three-person aircrew

ejected safely and was recovered.

On 18 February, an F/A-18C

Hornet of Strike Fighter Squadron

147 crashed while operating from

Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the

western Pacific. The pilot ejected

safely and was recovered.

An F/A-18C of Marine Fighter

Attack Squadron 314 suffered Class

A damage after it free-fell on an

elevator aboard Carl Vinson (CVN

70) on 1 March.

On 12 March, an E-2C Hawkeye

of Carrier Airborne Early Warning

Squadron 120 suffered Class A

damage when its landing gear

and wings collapsed and it

caught fire after departing the

runway upon landing at MCAS

Cherry Point, N.C.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 7

OSPREY

DROPS

The V-22

Osprey integrated

test team

completed a series

of tests over Fort

Bragg, N.C., to

prove the Osprey’s

utility as an aerial

delivery platform.

Thirty hours of

flight time included testing of how deployment bags left behind after

static-line jumps reacted in the aircraft’s wake, and hung-jumper tests in

both the conversion and airplane modes. Containerized delivery system

tests with 500- and 1,000-pound bundles dropped up to four at a time,

above, were also conducted.

Medals for War on

Terror Established

In March, President George W.

Bush issued an executive order

establishing two military awards

for actions in the global war on

terrorism. The Global War on

Terrorism Service Medal, above

right, will be awarded to service

members who serve in military

operations to combat terrorism

on or after 11 September 2001,

most notably Operation Noble

Eagle. The Global War on

Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,

right below, will be awarded to

service members who serve in

military expeditions to combat

terrorism on or after 11

September 2001, such as

Operation Enduring Freedom.

By Lt. Gen. Mike Hough, Deputy Commandant

for Aviation

Irecently assumed the duties of

Deputy Commandant for Aviation

from Lieutenant General “Spider”

Nyland, now the Assistant Commandant.

I am truly blessed and honored to hold

this position, and I intend to continue the

tradition of professional excellence established by those

who held the position before me. Since this is my first

chance to address you in this magazine, I would like to

take the opportunity to share with you my vision for the

future of Marine Aviation.

We are facing a period of great transformation. Over the

course of the next 10 to 15 years, most of what we have in

Marine Aviation will change. This includes Tactical Air

(TacAir) Integration, legacy-to-modern aircraft transition,

Marine Air Command and Control System modernization,

and new basing requirements. The management of this

change will dictate the Marine Corps’ future for the next

half century. We will harness this transformation as a total

force Aviation Combat Element (ACE) composed of four

Marine Aircraft Wings in order to maintain operational

flexibility and retain our culture within our capstone

operational concept, Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare. I

want to stress that the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing is an equal

player within our ACE and fills a crucial role in the future

success of Marine Aviation.

The one thing that will not change, however, is our

professionalism and expeditionary culture. My top

priorities are and will remain the accomplishment of our

mission and the welfare of our people. I would like to

express my vision for our future across four themes: safety,

budget, Aviation Transition Plan, and TacAir Integration.

Safety. Aviation and ground safety are my primary

focus. My goal is to attain the highest possible combat

readiness to support Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare,

while preserving and conserving our most precious

assets—our Marines, Sailors and equipment. I see

leadership as the key to aviation safety, and I continue to

work with the force, wing, group and in some instances

squadron commanders at our quarterly Marine Air Boards

to discuss safety issues. I expect the aviation leadership

throughout the chain of command to stick to the basics:

take care of people, make the right decisions, lead by

example, use their heads, and focus on mishap prevention.

I am holding Marine leadership accountable, but I am also

giving these leaders the tools to make their jobs easier,

including standardized training and readiness manuals and

tactical standard operating procedures, and a newly

initiated crew resource management working group. My

intent is to use these tools to improve safety by sufficiently

preparing Marines for combat so that when they do go to

war, they don’t experience situations for the first time, such

as high-altitude flight, mountain area landings, and

brownout.

Budget. The Marine Corps is planning for our

requirement to remain a “Force in Readiness.” We are

programming our needs, not our wants. We have in the

recent past during the era of downsizing, and to some

degree today, had to do more with less as a matter of

necessity. Our Marine Aviation Campaign Plan represents a

significant effort toward mitigating the strain of operating

legacy aircraft through the transitions.

Aviation Transition Plan. As we transition to new

aircraft, we continue to modernize existing aircraft to ensure

readiness and warfighting relevance. The key to success will

be the careful balancing of people and equipment that

allows us to also maintain combat readiness. The Marine

Aviation transformation involves over 20 years of aircraft

transitions and modernization in an effort to maintain

combat superiority and tactical relevance in an uncertain

security environment. This neck-down strategy hinges on

reducing the number of type model aircraft and procuring

weapon systems that maximize commonality in support

requirements. The intent is to maintain relevant forces while

reducing the logistics burden on the commander. Our

Aviation Transition Plan will support Expeditionary

Maneuver Warfare and provide enhanced strategic agility,

operational reach, tactical flexibility, support and

sustainment, and joint/multinational enabling.

TacAir Integration. The Navy and Marine Corps team

have embarked on a TacAir Integration plan that will

enhance core combat capabilities and provide a more

potent, cohesive and affordable fighting force. A

cornerstone of this plan is Department of the Navy (DON)

funding and maintenance of legacy aircraft at the highest

levels of readiness until replacement by the Joint Strike

Fighter (JSF). This requires an unwavering commitment to

a heightened strike fighter readiness across the DON. The

readiness levels associated with integration will allow the

DON to surge more aircraft than is within our means today.

We recently signed a TacAir Integration Memorandum

of Understanding and Memorandum of Agreement with the

Navy. The days of doing it on our own are over, and we

must work together as a Navy-Marine Corps team to

8 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

The Future of

Marine Corps Aviation

ensure continued wellness of

TacAir in the DON. My

philosophy for the success of

Marine Aviation is a single naval solution using one team

and one vision. TacAir Integration allows us to better meet

our 21st century requirements while simultaneously

increasing efficiencies, unifying our core Naval Aviation

competencies, and maintaining our unique Marine

expeditionary culture. The TacAir Integration plan reduces

1 TacAir squadron in the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing and

adds 6 additional Marine TacAir squadrons to carrier battle

groups for a total of 10. Conversely, the Navy accepts the

reduction of three active and one reserve TacAir squadron

and commits three strike fighter squadrons to the Marine

Unit Deployment Program. Additionally, both the Navy and

the Marine Corps will make reductions in the primary

aircraft authorized of current F/A-18 Hornet and future JSF

squadrons in support of TacAir Integration. These

adjustments will provide a more capable force, ensure

better utilization of our precious assets, and create

significant savings that will be applied to Navy and Marine

Corps recapitalization. Naval TacAir, with a smaller more

efficient force, will continue to provide combatant

commanders and joint force commanders with a flexible,

scalable, full-spectrum response capability from the sea.

While modernization remains a high priority, the legacy

aircraft that we fly today must serve the Corps for many

years to come.

I would like to close by discussing the roles of some of

our deployed aviation units. The Flying Nightmares of

Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 513 deployed to Bagram

Air Base, Afghanistan, in October 2002, and have flown

over 250 sorties totaling more than 1,000 flight hours in

support of Operation Enduring Freedom (see pp. 18–21).

From their austere base located over 5,000 feet above sea

level, the AV-8B Harrier IIs provide close air support,

armed escort of aircraft and

vehicle convoys, and air cover

during helicopter insertions and

extractions.

The Harriers of VMA-513 are equipped with the

Litening II targeting pod, which gives pilots the ability to

laser-designate targets for precision munitions and mark

spots on the ground with infrared energy. This function has

put the Harriers in Afghanistan in high demand. Coalition

and sister service forces regularly request the Litening II

pod capability to accurately locate and identify enemy

positions. Since VMA-513’s arrival in theater, 100 percent

of their precision ordnance drops have been direct hits.

The AV-8B that we fly today is not the same aircraft we

flew 10 years ago. During the last decade, the Harrier has

developed from a day, ground-attack aircraft to a night,

adverse-weather precision strike platform. The AV-8B

remanufacture program has updated the Harrier into a more

capable and reliable aircraft that possesses a night-attack

avionics suite, the APG-65 multimode radar, and a more

powerful and reliable Pegasus 408 engine. Clearly, the

deployment of a squadron of AV-8Bs to the expeditionary

environment of Afghanistan to fight in the global war on

terrorism illustrates the combat relevance that the Harrier

brings to the fight. Additionally, our helicopters, KC-130

Hercules tankers and Harriers that make up the Aviation

Combat Elements of the deployed Marine Expeditionary

Units (Special Operations Capable), our squadrons

deployed as part of the Unit Deployment Program, our

EA-6B Prowlers, and our Marine Air Control Group

personnel continue to provide a force in readiness to

support our combatant commanders.

I look forward to sharing Marine Aviation with the

readers of Naval Aviation News in the months to come.

Warm regards and Semper Fidelis.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 9

A Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 F/A-18C

Hornet prepares to launch from Constellation

(CVN 64) operating in the Arabian Gulf in February

2003.

Wendy Leland

10 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

When Tarawa (LHA 1) began her scheduled sixmonth

cruise in the Arabian Gulf in February, it

was evident that this was going to be anything

but a routine deployment. The ship was abuzz with

activity as the members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary

Unit (Special Operations Capable) prepared to put their

training to the test. After playing a key role in

transporting scores of Marines to shore bases in Kuwait,

the aircraft of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron

(HMM) 161 Reinforced (Rein), the 15th MEU (SOC)’s

aviation combat element (ACE), returned to the ship to

prepare for what is now known as Operation Iraqi

Freedom.

The ACE is one of

four components that

make up a typical

MEU (SOC), which is a

type of Marine Air-

Ground Task Force

(MAGTF) that combines air,

ground and logistic assets into a flexible fighting force.

In addition to the ACE, a command element, ground

combat element (GCE) and combat service support

element (CSSE) comprise the MEU, which embarks three

ships of a Navy amphibious ready group (ARG) under

the command of an amphibious squadron. There are a

Story and Photos by Wendy Leland

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 11

total of seven marine expeditionary units—the 11th, 13th and 15th under the 1st Marine

Expeditionary Force (MEF) on the West Coast; the 22d, 24th and 26th under the 2d MEF on

the East Coast, and the 31st under the 3d MEF in Okinawa, Japan. These forward-deployed

forces can respond to changing threats at a moment’s notice, with the ability to take a mission

from planning to execution in a matter of hours.

A MEU can be called upon for a variety of missions, including amphibious or expeditionary

assault, security operations, noncombatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance, and special

operations. Consisting of approximately 2,000

Marines, “The MEU’s really a small unit in some

regards, but it’s a very capable unit,” Colonel

Thomas D. Walhauser, CO of the 15th MEU,

explained. “In terms of Operation Enduring

Freedom or the global war on terrorism, the MEU

is a very critical asset overall.”

Every time a MEU comes together, it is a

different entity than during its previous

deployment. The command element may be

essentially the same, but the ACE, GCE and

CSSE change from one deployment to the next. A

six-month workup period ensures that all

components interface smoothly. “We have 23

mission tasks that we’re supposed to perform

before we leave San Diego [Calif.],” Col.

Waldhauser said, “and the six-month workup with

our supporting elements is capped off by a

special-operations-capable exercise.” The MEU is

not considered special operations capable until it

passes the SOC-EX, during which its performance

is judged by fellow Marines. The MEU (SOC) is

then ready to begin its six-month deployment,

after which all the component elements disband

and return to their parent organizations.

Each MEU’s aviation combat element is

formed around the nucleus of a Marine medium

helicopter squadron, which deploys with its

Right, Tarawa (LHA 1) and the

ships of her amphibious

ready group—Duluth (LPD 6)

and Mount Rushmore (LSD

47)—began a WESTPAC

deployment with the 15th

Marine Expeditionary Unit

(Special Operations Capable)

in February 2003. The MEU’s

aviation combat element

consisted of CH-46E Sea

Knights of HMM-161, facing

page top, reinforced by

detachments from other

squadrons. Above, the ACE is

reponsible for transporting

ground Marines ashore and

flying support missions from

ships or forward bases.

US Navy

entire complement of CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters,

pilots, aircrewmen and maintainers. The Sea Knight

squadron is reinforced by detachments from other

squadrons, with the exact makeup determined by the

tactical situation, the MAGTF’s mission, and space

limitations within the ARG. For this western Pacific

deployment, the ACE was comprised of 12 Sea Knights

of HMM-161, reinforced by detachments of 4 CH-53E

Super Stallions from Marine Heavy Helicopter

Squadron 361, 3 UH-1N “Hueys” and 4 AH-1W

Super Cobras from Marine Light Attack Helicopter

Squadron 267, and 6 AV-8B Harrier IIs from Marine

Attack Squadron 311. Captain Ned Biehl, CH-46E

pilot and weapons and tactics instructor for HMM-

161, explained, “When everyone comes together we

grow from a normal-sized ‘Frog’ squadron of about

120, to 400-plus Marines.” In addition, two KC-130

Hercules of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport

Squadron 252 support the MEU from land bases in

the region.

This combination of rotor-wing and fixed-wing

aircraft brings a wide range of capabilities to the

table. The ACE’s missions include transporting troops,

defending transport aircraft as they enter a hostile

zone, and providing an attack capability with both

close and deep air support to the troops on the ground.

With the ability to operate from any of the ships of the

ARG or from forward land bases, the ACE is a

Right, a landing signal enlisted Sailor directs

an HMM-161 (Rein) CH-53E Super Stallion in

for a landing on board Tarawa. The Super

Stallion provides a heavy lift and transport

capability to the ACE. Bottom, with regular

flight operations suspended while the ship

transits the Strait of Hormuz, a UH-1N waits

on emergency standby. Below, Huey pilots

1st Lt. Don McCowan, foreground, and Capt.

Bryan Wittmer await the call to action outside

their helo.

versatile asset that can be configured as appropriate for

each particular mission.

The CH-46E Sea Knights make up the majority of the

squadron’s aircraft complement. “Our main mission is

assault support, basically to get troops in and out of

combat zones,” explained pilot Capt. Ray Ozambela.

Assault support can have many facets, such as resupply,

casualty evacuation, tactical recovery of aircrew and

personnel, or visit-board-search-and-seizure missions.

“That all encompasses assault support because we are

supporting the people doing the assault by getting them

where they need to go,” Ozambela said. Compared to

their Navy counterparts, the MEU’s CH-46Es carry more

fuel and are outfitted with aircraft survivability equipment

such as infrared countermeasures and chaff and flare

dispensers to help them survive in a hostile zone.

Like its rotor-wing brethren, the CH-53E Super

Stallion can conduct a variety of missions. Primarily

considered an assault support platform, the huge

helicopter provides a significant long-range capability

that is enhanced by its ability to aerial refuel. Its internal

carrying capacity and external lift capability make it the

platform of choice for heavy lift missions. In addition,

“We have what we call the Robertson System, a tactical

bulk fueling system. We can carry bladders in the back

that can refuel other types of aircraft,” explained Major

Jason Gerin. “We can take fuel from a C-130, land on

the ground and then refuel CH-46s or AH- or UH-1s so

they can get further inland and be self-sufficient fuelwise.”

Outfitted solely with medium-range suppressive

weapons such as 50-caliber machine guns, when

operating in a tactical scenario the Sea Knights and

Super Stallions would typically be escorted by platforms

with more firepower. The ACE relies on two helicopter

types to perform the escort role, the UH-1N Huey and

the AH-1W Super Cobra, collectively known as the

“skids.” UH-1N pilot Capt. Chris Chown explained,

“The escort’s job is to protect the assault support

helicopters while they’re going to the zone. Once the

ground guys are on the zone, we roll into close air

support for them.” As a utility helicopter, the Huey can

also conduct other missions, such as transport, medevac

and special operations support. The UH-1Ns bring a

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 13

variety of firepower for suppressive fire, such

as 2.75” rockets with various warheads, 50-

caliber and 7.62mm machine guns, and the

GAU-17 minigun. What makes the Huey

unique is that “in a typical mission you would

have a command and control Huey,” ACE CO

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Peters explained.

“We’ll put the ground mission commander and

the air mission commander in the same aircraft, the idea

being they can talk back and forth and hopefully make

better decisions because they’re collocated.”

The Super Cobra provides the ACE with an allweather,

day and night attack option to support the

Marines on the ground. With an array of ordnance—

including tube-launched, optically tracked wire-guided

missiles; Hellfire missiles; unguided rockets; and a

20mm cannon—the Super Cobras can operate in antitank

roles and perform armed and aerial reconnaissance.

Close air support, in which air assets are firing in close

proximity to friendly troops, and deep air support further

behind enemy lines are also on the Cobra’s mission

profile. Capt. Seth Wolcott said, “We’re really flexible

because we can operate through very austere conditions.

For instance in Afghanistan, it was just dust essentially,

14 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Above, deck crew personnel confer with the

pilots of an AH-1W Super Cobra to ensure all

systems are go before launch. Right,

ordnancemen load AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

on a Super Cobra. Facing page, Marines

enjoy a lighter moment in the cabin of a UH-

1N Huey chocked on one of the portside

spots during a break in flight operations on

board Tarawa.

and all we had to do is get a CH-53 to come in there with

ordnance and fuel. We can, in the middle of nowhere,

refuel ourselves and rearm ourselves with ordnance and

get back into the fight on very short notice.”

Both the Hueys and the Cobras can be designated as

airborne forward air controllers (FAC-A). The forward

air controller on the ground, who is terminally

controlling all the ordnance being employed, can pass

control to the FAC-A in the Cobra or Huey as needed.

The airborne controller can then “coordinate air strikes,

call in rotor-wing fires and integrate that with fixed-wing

fires, and get on the radio to the artillery battalion and

coordinate air, ground and surface fires,” explained Capt.

Chown.

While the majority of the ACE’s assets are rotor-wing,

it includes one fixed-wing platform serving in the

fighter-attack role, the AV-8B Harrier II. Pilot Capt.

Michael J. Black explained, “As a jump jet we’re

designed to be close to the battlefield, go out short

distances, drop bombs, come back and reload. We can

get closer to the battlefield than anyone.” The unique

thrust vectoring that gives the Harrier its vertical/short

takeoff and landing ability also enables the aircraft to

conduct rolling takeoffs at short distances. “With a

typical loadout we can take off in about 700 feet,

whereas the average F-18 would probably require about

3,000 to 5,000 feet,” Capt. Black said, “so we can go to a

much smaller, more obscure airfield.” Like the skids, the

Harrier can provide close air support for ground troops,

deep air support and helicopter escort, but it is unique in

its ability to conduct offensive missions against enemy

ground-to-air defenses. Its firepower can include an array

of smart weapons such as guided bomb units (GBU), and

conventional weapons such as Rockeye, MK 82 or MK

83 bombs and Sidewinder and Maverick missiles.

The Harrier is an even more potent bombing platform

with the addition of the global positioning systemcoupled

inertial navigation system and the Litening pod.

“The frustration that our guys had when they did

Operation Enduring Freedom was that they had GBUs

but they had no self-lasing capability,” Capt. Black said.

In order to drop their smart weapons, the Harrier pilots

had to wait for another aircraft, such as an F-14 Tomcat,

F/A-18 Hornet or F-16 Fighting Falcon, to arrive on

scene to laser-designate the target. Now, they can use the

Litening pod to designate their own targets, enhancing

their value to the mission planners. “Nobody really

wanted us because we couldn’t lase for ourselves. Now

it’s like, ‘Where are the Harriers? We want these guys.

They have an incredible platform for self-designating and

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 15

16 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Right, an enlisted Marine prepares the cockpit of an AV-8B Harrier II as

pilot Capt. Michael J. Black arranges his survival equipment prior to

takeoff. Below and facing page top, the Harrier utilizes its unique thrust

vectoring to assist in rolling takeoffs from the relatively short flight deck of

an amphibious ship.

they’re very accurate bombers.’”

Keeping this variety of aircraft flying requires a dedicated

maintenance effort. Marines in the flightline shop provide operationallevel

maintenance, troubleshooting and repairing aircraft components

while they are still on board the aircraft. For intermediate-level

maintenance, the ACE is augmented by detachments from each

Marine Air Logistics Squadron that supports a particular aircraft

type—MALS-13 from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., for Harriers; MALS-16

from MCAS Miramar, Calif., for H-46s and H-53s; and MALS-39

from MCAS Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the AH-1Ws and UH-1Ns.

These Marines integrate with the Navy work centers aboard ship, but

are still administratively connected to the ACE.

A single maintenance control shop located close to the squadron’s

ready room serves as the interface between the maintainers and the

pilots. “The maintenance controller is a senior guy who looks at an

aircraft from the paperwork side to make sure there are no

outstanding aircraft gripes or maintenance action forms before it goes

out and flies,” Capt. Biehl said. Maintenance control, the pilot and, if

there is one, the crew chief all review the maintenance

books and sign off on the aircraft before flight. Pilots

and crew chiefs are both responsible for preflighting the

aircraft on the deck as well.

Enlisted aircrew personnel are integral members of

the team for all the helicopter platforms except the twoplace

Super Cobra. Dual-hatted from other shops such as

flightline, they fly with Sea Knights, Super Stallions and

Hueys as aerial observers and/or gunners. An enlisted

crew chief ensures that all the systems and processes aft

of the cockpit are running smoothly. “They can also

assist when things go wrong inside the cockpit,” Capt.

Biehl said. “They’re the duty experts, and if something

should go wrong with the aircraft they know all the ins

and outs of it.”

This spirit of teamwork is not only the hallmark of

the aviation combat element, it is also representative of

how the MEU integrates with the Navy ships on which it

is embarked. By transporting the Marines and their

equipment to the operational theater, supporting them

while on shore and providing a moveable base of

operations for Marine aircraft, the ARG and its Sailors

are integral contributors to the MEU’s success.

Operational requirements during the current conflict

in Iraq may change the backdrop against which the 15th

MEU and its aviation combat element operate. But

whatever challenges may come, it is clear that HMM-

161 (Rein) will continue to do what it does best: support

the warfighters on the ground. As Lt. Col. Peters

concluded, “We’ve got a great group of folks and

they’re ready to do whatever

we need to do.”

Special thanks to JOC William Polson,

JO2 Crystal King and JOSN David

Senn of the Tarawa PAO shop; JOCS

Scott Williams, CTF-51 PAO; Capt.

Manuel Delarosa, 15th MEU PAO;

and all the personnel of HMM-161

(Rein) for their assistance with this

article. Thanks also to Sgt. Rick

Wiggins who patiently served as flight

deck escort, and to the Tarawa ship’s

company for helping the author feel at

home while underway.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 17

Above, the aviation combat element is augmented by

personnel from Marine Air Logistics Squadrons, who join

with the ship’s company to provide intermediate-level

aircraft maintenance. Below right, an aircrewman carries a

50-caliber machine gun across Tarawa’s flight deck.

18 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

On 15 October 2002, the first of six AV-8B Harrier

IIs from the Flying Nightmares of Marine Attack

Squadron (VMA) 513 settled on the rough tarmac

at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. After rolling out to the

end of the runway, the aircraft turned onto a

perpendicular taxiway lined with active minefields and

continued past the visual remnants of a war that has

ravaged this country for many years. Numerous

abandoned MiG and Sukhoi aircraft lie overturned as

heaps of junk throughout the base. Burned out tanks,

trucks and armored personnel carriers litter Bagram’s

infield. Within this eyesore, American resolve is strong

and undeterred. The 6 aircraft, 10 pilots and more than

180 Marines and Sailors of

VMA-513 (Reinforced) are

an integral part of the U.S.

war on terrorism and add to

the Department of Defense’s

flexibility by increasing the options available to the U.S.

military.

In fall 2002, the squadron received tasking to forward

deploy its assets to Afghanistan in support of Operation

Enduring Freedom. Within a week, personnel were sent

to prepare facilities for the squadron’s arrival in theater.

Shortly, the rest of the unit members left their families

and friends at MCAS Yuma, Ariz.

Operating out of an old, neglected Soviet air base, the

Nightmares encountered numerous challenges but have

overcome them. The base’s runway and taxiways are in

such poor condition that they are constantly being

repaired. Rocks and debris are so numerous they make

the runway at Twenty-nine

Palms, Calif., seem clean by

comparison. To deal with the

situation the squadron

modified its procedures, in

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 19

Facing page, the author and his wingman come back

from a mission. Above, a VMA-513 AV-8B returns from

dawn patrol as the sunrise highlights the Hindu Kush

mountains surrounding the airfield at Bagram. The

peaks rise to heights of 16,000 feet.

part due to the unique

capability of the AV-8B.

Lieutenant Colonel

Jim Dixon, commanding

officer of VMA-513,

said, “People have the

misconception that the

Harrier must be

employed vertically to

be successful. We’ve

proven once again you

don’t need to do that.

The inherent flexibility

of vertical/short takeoff

and landing aircraft

gives us other options. If

we were operating from

an amphibious ship, we

would adjust our

procedures for that

environment. That’s

what makes the Harrier

such a great aircraft; it gives the warfighter so many

options with the same asset.” The skipper’s comments

seem justified by the success the Nightmares have

enjoyed. In a little over 12 weeks of combat operations,

they averaged more than 100 sorties and 400 hours per

month, and maintenance ready rates remained extremely

high.

Since their arrival, the Nightmares have taken pride in

their work and their living conditions. They built and

named their small compound “Camp Tuefel-Hunden,” a

reference to the moniker given to the Marines during

WW I. The camp is dedicated to the Marines who gave

their lives while deployed to this area of operations since

11 September 2001. Initially operating out of generalpurpose

canvas tents that constantly leaked during

Afghanistan showers, the Marines erected an expeditionary

hangar that provided improved shelter from the harsh

environment. But weather was not the only obstacle. They

had to work on aircraft under the pitch-black Afghanistan

nights. Due to the constant threat of enemy direct and

indirect fire (the base has been attacked several times

since VMA-513 arrived), the Marines must work without

the benefit of “white” light while operating on the

flightline. If an aircraft cannot be moved into the hangar,

the job must be done out on the line—working with only a

red lens flashlight on moonless or overcast nights. When

asked what he thought of the situation, power line

mechanic Sergeant David Harris responded, “It’s good to

go. I enjoy the challenges. It makes the time go by faster.”

The Harriers are heavily requested assets within the

area of operations. Their proven reliability has won the

confidence of those unfamiliar with the unique aspects of

the AV-8B. U.S. and coalition forces are using new

technologies to fight this war, and they rely on night

operations more than ever.

In this regard, the

Nightmares and their nightattack

aircraft live up to

their namesake. At least 80

percent of their sorties are

conducted at night. Using

night-vision goggles and

their newly issued Litening

II targeting pod, the pilots

can see into the darkness of

the Afghanistan landscape

and provide detailed

information to ground

personnel who are either

looking for the enemy or

are actually engaged in

combat with them. Flight

operations at night are

strictly “lights out” or

“covert” due to the

surrounding threat. One

pilot said, “We face danger as soon as we take off and

until we land. It’s not like we have the luxury of taking off

far behind enemy lines and then prepare ourselves for

combat. We’re smack dab in the middle of it.”

Thanks to the ingenuity of the squadron’s maintenance

department, the AV-8Bs were equipped with an infrared

approach light before deployment. The light allows the

pilot to see the “blacked out” runway during approach and

landing, as well as allowing the pilot to navigate the

aircraft on the unlit taxiways that are often lined with old

Soviet mines. Thus, it’s not just the environment outside

the base that is a hazard, but within as well. Since the

squadron’s arrival, the daily

detonations of unexploded

ordnance being cleared by

explosive ordnance teams are a

constant reminder of the threat

and danger in a combat

environment. VMA-513’s safety

record and approach to business

has mitigated these risks and

resulted in no accidents or

injuries. Protecting each other as

well as their assets comes

naturally to the Nightmares,

which completed 47,000

mishap-free flight hours as of

January 2003.

The Nightmares are a long

way from home. They flew

halfway around the world to

support their country’s efforts.

Afghanistan may be different

than Yuma, but it is similar in

20 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Above, a VMA-513 AV-8B is bathed in the warm glow of the early

morning sun. Facing page, top, a pilot debriefs ordnancemen

after a mission. Note the gun on the staff sergeant; all occupants

at Bagram carry a loaded weapon. Facing page, bottom, AV-8Bs

await the next flight. The burned out hangar in the background

was converted into the base entertainment theater.

many ways. One Marine summarized the sights of the

country by describing the four colors he sees daily: “Gray,

the color of the aircraft and sky. Green, the color of a few

trees, many tents and military vehicles. White, the color of

the mountains due to ever-present snow. Brown, the color

of everything else.” A fine dust covers the barren

landscape. It resembles the fine cocoa powder found inside

the Marines’ MREs (meals ready to eat). The dust resides

anywhere that is not paved or layered in gravel. When one

walks on top of this powdery dirt, a brown haze lifts from

the ground and trails the individual’s steps.

“I have to clean my glasses four times a day and I don’t

even work outside,” said Lance Corporal Mechelle

Ramsay, VMA-513’s operations clerk. A native of Jamaica,

she said she doesn’t like the snow either, but it’s one or the

other in Afghanistan.

The wind can also be a serious challenge. Dust storms

often reduce visibility to less than a mile. But the dirt,

dust, rain and snow in Afghanistan have not deterred the

Marines in their mission. They continue to work 12-hour

shifts, 7 days a week. When asked about the long hours,

aviation ordnanceman Sgt. David Morrell said, “What

else are we going to do out here? Besides, it’s what I

joined up for.” Sgt. Morrell is a newly married Marine

who misses his family. His first child, a boy, was born in

December 2002 but he has only seen pictures of him.

When the Marines aren’t working, eating or sleeping

they can often be found calling or emailing their loved

ones back home. Asked what he missed most, Capt. Dan

Carlson said, “My family, of course, but it sure would be

nice to have good Mexican dinner.”

The Mexican food will have to

wait. For now, the Nightmares are

focused on the mission at hand, and

that means getting aircraft ready for

the next launch. Critics will continue

to debate the utility of the AV-8B.

Their opinions and arguments are

important, but the Marines and

Sailors of VMA-513 are concerned

with one thing: making sure they

continue to get the job done and do

it professionally. As one Marine

summed up, “The sooner we can

accomplish the mission, the sooner

we can go home.”

Maj. Franzak is executive officer of VMA-513.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 21

In the months following the 7 December 1941 attack on

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japanese forces swept across the

Pacific and the eyes of the American public were

increasingly drawn to remote island outposts.

Characteristic of the motto “First to Fight,” these small

islands were defended to a great extent solely by U.S.

Marines, who captured the public’s imagination with their

heroism. Among those who fought was an unlikely hero,

Captain Richard E. Fleming, who in June 1942

participated in the pivotal sea battle fought in the waters

surrounding the small atoll of Midway.

A son of the Midwest, Richard E.

Fleming was born in St. Paul, Minn., on

2 November 1917 to a devout Catholic

family. He attended St. Thomas

Military Academy and then St. Thomas

College before transferring to the

University of Minnesota, from which

he graduated in June 1939. During this

time he began dating Peggy Crooks,

whom he had met at the corner

drugstore when they were both

teenagers. Within months of his

graduation from college, the German

blitzkrieg rolled into Poland, triggering

war in Europe. Despite having already

obtained a reserve commission in the

U.S. Army through ROTC at St.

Thomas Military Academy, Fleming

opted out of life as an infantryman in

favor of the chance to soar among the

clouds. Signing on as an aviation cadet,

he reported to the Naval Reserve air

base in nearby Minneapolis for

Elimination Base training, which determined his aptitude

for flying.

Logging flight time in open cockpit N3N trainers in the

dead of the harsh Minnesota winter was enough to test the

mettle of any young man. Fleming’s classmates noted his

propensity for napping at every opportunity and

commented in the class scrapbook, “Gets his exercise

swabbing out the head and fighting the mice for

possession of his bunk.” With 11.9 hours of flight time in

his logbook, Fleming finished E-base on 13 January 1940,

and the following month departed for the more pleasant

climate of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. It is not

surprising, given the fact that his instructor in Minneapolis

was popular Marine Capt. Charles Schlapkohl, that

Fleming aspired to depart Pensacola with his wings pinned

on the uniform of a Marine second lieutenant.

Pensacola was a bustling place on the eve of American

entry into WW II. The passage of the Naval Aviation

Cadet Act in 1935 greatly increased the number of trainees

coming to the area. Among those at the “Cradle of Naval

Aviation” during Fleming’s time there were many future

members of the famed “Flying Tigers,” as well as men

who were to join him in combat at Midway.

Despite his previous military training, Fleming received

his share of demerits for such infractions as unauthorized

absence from formation and personal articles “adrift” or

“not in proper order.” For failure to submit a required fuel

diagram prior to soloing in the TBD Devastator in

November 1940, he was required to sketch the fuel system

of the aircraft on a blackboard and

study it each day between 0700 and

0800 for one week. He also had a

slight midair collision on one training

flight, brushing the wing of another

student’s plane on a formation flight.

Despite this, Fleming performed

well for his instructors, one of whom

was future wartime fighter skipper

Lieutenant Joseph C. Clifton, USN,

and Fleming was assigned to “carriertype

airplanes.” Completing training

on 6 December 1940, he received his

designation as Naval Aviator Number

6889 and orders to the Second Marine

Aircraft Group in San Diego, Calif.

A year and one day after receiving

his wings, First Lieutenant Richard E.

Fleming found himself at war. Ten

days after the Japanese attack on Pearl

Harbor, he joined his squadronmates

in Marine Scout Bombing Squadron

(VMSB) 231 on a 1,137-mile

overwater flight from Ewa Mooring Mast Field in Hawaii

to Midway Atoll as part of the effort to bolster its

defenses. Upon arrival they set about making themselves

at home on the atoll’s Eastern Island. Living conditions

were rustic, with the men housed in underground dugouts

covered with vegetation. During high winds or storms, the

water level rose in the dugouts, immersing the lower bunk

in water, thus “senior” personnel commandeered the upper

bunks.

Training flights included occasional squadron formation

flights, antisubmarine patrols and practice bombing runs

against an old barge in the lagoon. One pilot recalled his

gunner using white caps on the Pacific as targets during

gunnery practice. The squadron aircraft, the SB2U-3

Vindicator, left much to be desired. Covered mainly with

fabric, which due to age and the Pacific heat would peel

off in too steep a dive, the aircraft was known derisively as

the “Wind Indicator.”

22 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Above, Aviation Cadet Fleming at NAS

Pensacola, Fla., in 1940. Facing page,

Fleming was killed while flying an SB2U-

3 Vindicator during the 5 June 1942

attack on the Japanese cruiser Mikuma.

ALWAYS FAITHFUL

By Hill Goodspeed

As the weeks passed, the squadron noted a distinct

buildup of the defenses at Midway. Changes were afoot

also in the squadron’s redesignation to VMSB-241 and the

arrival of new pilots. One of them was a fellow

Minnesotan, Second Lieutenant Tom Gratzek, who in one

letter home included a popular stamp that featured a

Marine Corps emblem and the words “We’ll Hold Midway

’Til Hell Freezes Over.” There was no doubt of the

leathernecks’ fighting spirit, which was bolstered in late

May with the arrival of 16 SBD-2 Dauntless dive-bombers,

a distinct improvement over the Vindicators. Squadron

pilots and gunners could receive only the bare minimum of

indoctrination in their new aircraft—two flights at the

maximum—because code breakers at Pearl Harbor had

uncovered Japanese plans that would cast them as central

players in a momentous sea battle.

On the morning of 3 June 1942, PBY Catalina patrol

plane crews sent the electrifying news that they had

spotted elements of the approaching Japanese fleet. The

next day VMSB-241 joined Navy and Army Air Forces

aircraft in launching a strike

against the enemy. Sixteen

pilots and gunners, including

Fleming and his gunner,

Corporal Eugene Card, flew

SBD-2s, with the remaining

11 crews flying Vindicators.

While their Imperial Japanese

Navy counterparts winged

their way toward the atoll for

bombing attacks, VMSB-241

set its sights on enemy

carriers. As part of the formation, Fleming flew wing on

squadron CO Major Lofton R. Henderson. Shortly before

0800, while at an altitude of 9,500 feet, the formation

spotted the telltale wakes of enemy carriers below. As the

Dauntlesses maneuvered into position for an attack,

Fleming yelled over the radio, “Here they come,” as Zero

fighters of the Japanese combat air patrol began making

attacks against the Marine planes.

Henderson’s plane was among the first to fall, leaving it

to Fleming to lead the attack. Braving a hail of bullets

from antiaircraft guns and fighters, he pressed home a run

against the carrier Hiryu, dropping his bomb from 400 feet.

With his wounded gunner still fighting off attacking

fighters, Fleming descended to low altitude, jinking the

trusty Dauntless to throw off the aim of his pursuers. “We

may have to sniff our way home,” Fleming told Card.

Indeed, their aircraft was holed 179 times, with some

rounds destroying parts of the instrument panel as well as

the compass. Joining up with the aircraft flown by Capt.

Elmer Glidden, Fleming returned his bullet-riddled aircraft

to Midway, proclaiming “Boys, there is one ride I am glad

is over,” to the leathernecks who ran out to his plane when

it rolled to a stop. Of the 16 SBD-2s that had departed

Midway earlier that morning, 8 were shot down over the

enemy fleet. Fleming made another flight before the day

was out, participating in a fruitless search for one of the

burning Japanese carriers hit by Navy dive-bombers earlier

in the day. The mission claimed the life of VMSB-241’s

skipper of just a few hours, Maj. Benjamin Norris.

The following day Fleming was in the air again, this

time leading a flight of six SB2U-3s in a strike against the

Japanese heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma, which had

collided the previous night and had been spotted early that

morning by a patrolling PBY. As Fleming’s planes, which

were joined by six VMSB-241 SBD-2s, made their way

toward the contact position, a telltale oil slick on the water

led them straight to the ships. During their approach the

Japanese defenders put up a spirited defense with

antiaircraft guns that found their mark. Unable to execute a

true dive-bombing attack with his Vindicator, Fleming

began a glide bombing run out of the sun from an altitude

of 4,000 feet, setting his sights on Mikuma. With smoke

and flames emanating from his engine almost immediately,

Fleming managed to maintain control of the plane and

drop his bomb, which was a near-miss. However, as he

began to pull out, his

Vindicator burst into flames

and neither Fleming nor his

gunner, Private First Class

George A. Toms, were ever

found. Like the previous day,

the Marines had suffered

painful losses without scoring a

hit on the enemy.

The war diary for VMSB-

241 filed after the Battle of

Midway cited the squadron

members for their display of “guts,” particularly for the

morning flight of 4 June. Also, as testament to the intensity

of combat, it was recommended that all of the surviving

squadron aircraft be stricken from the inventory due to

battle damage. Peculiarly, this same war diary concluded,

“No particular examples of outstanding bravery were

noted.” As the months passed, this assessment changed

with respect to Capt. Fleming. On 24 November 1942,

President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally presented Mrs.

Michael E. Fleming her son’s posthumous Medal of Honor,

and the following September the Navy commissioned a

destroyer escort named in the deceased pilot’s honor.

A more personal tribute came in the form of Fleming’s

last letter to Peggy Crooks, which he directed to be

delivered in the event of his death. “Letters like this should

not be morbid nor maudlin, and we’ll let it suffice to say

that I’ve been prepared for this rendezvous for some time,”

he wrote from Midway on 30 May. “This is something that

comes once to all of us; we can only bow before it.”

Hence, Richard E. Fleming’s life ended just as it had

begun, in a world at war.

Hill Goodspeed is a historian at the National Museum of Naval Aviation,

Pensacola, Fla.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 23

 

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 29

Hank Caruso’s AerocaturesTM Sketchbook:

Semper Fly!

The Gator’s Teeth. As we enter

the new millennium, Marine Corps

Aviation is going through a growth

spurt. Facing page: Some aircraft,

such as the F/A-18 Hornet and CH-

53 Sea Stallion, will grow older more

or less gracefully with evolutionary

upgrades. Others, like the KC-130J

Hercules and the four-bladed UH-1Y

“Huey” and AH-1Z Super Cobra, are

the beneficiaries of major

makeovers. And some, including the

elderly CH-46 Sea Knight and

spunky AV-8B Harrier II, will be

phased out as they are replaced by

the revolutionary MV-22 Osprey and

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Newer and

larger LHD amphibious assault ships

will replace the LHAs of the “Gator

Navy” as seagoing roosts for many

of the Corps’ birds. And what about

the aging but indispensable EA-6B

Prowler? No one knows.

Corps Values—Korea. By the time the Korean War ended,

Marine Corps Aviation was well on its way to becoming a modern

jet force. The new Grumman F9F Panther (right) joined the

venerable Vought F4U Corsair (top left) and Douglas AD Skyraider

(bottom) in their ground attack missions. The Douglas F3D

Skynight (top) flew night-fighter missions using advanced airborne

radar, while the McDonnell F2H-2P Banshee (bottom left) provided

vital aerial reconnaissance.

Illustrations and Text © Hank Caruso

Harrier’s In Hot! The AV-8B

Harrier II could well be a poster child

for Marine Corps Aviation. With its

vertical/short takeoff and landing

capabilities, it can operate from smalldeck

carriers and unimproved fields. It

can deliver a wide variety of ordnance

to support close-in ground operations.

And with its extraordinary vectored

thrust capabilities, it’s a major threat in

air combat. Eventually, it will be

replaced by the F-35 Joint Strike

Fighter, but until then no other U.S.

military service flies anything like it.

30 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Semper Torque. Aircraft with

spinning blades are indispensable to

Marine Corps operations. The massive

CH-53 Sea Stallion (bottom) moves

troops and cargo in and out of harm’s

way. The AH-1W Super Cobra gunship

(top left) is a lethal chaperone for ground

forces. The twin-rotor CH-46 Sea Knight

(top right) ferries supplies and ordnance

between ships at sea and transports

assault troops. The KC-130 Hercules

(bottom right) refuels Marine Corps and

Navy aircraft in flight. The UH-1 “Huey”

workhorse (bottom left) has a long

history with the Corps, while the MV-22

Osprey (middle right) awaits its chance to

serve.

Tilt with an Attitude. Perhaps the MV-22

Osprey should be renamed Phoenix since this

remarkable and controversial aircraft has twice

risen from the ashes of skepticism and tragedy.

Nevertheless, the Marine Corps is counting on

the Osprey with its tilting prop-rotors to fill

vital operational roles in the coming years.

Currently, the MV-22 is undergoing a new

round of flight tests to exorcise the demons

lurking in unexplored regions of its unique

flight envelope. Whatever the outcome, the

Osprey is certain to leave its mark on aviation

history.

Palms Away! NAS Miramar, Calif., was known as

“Fightertown USA,” the home of TOPGUN, the

Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. All of this changed in

1997 when the base became MCAS Miramar. The base

is now home to the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, whose

“palm pilots” have introduced the area’s trademark

vegetation to a new breed of aviator and aircraft,

including the F/A-18 Hornet (left), CH-53 Sea Stallion

(below) and the occasional AV-8B Harrier II (right).

This Aerocature™ was created for the Marine

Corps Aviation Association.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 31

Looking Out for Number One.

Specially created for the Marine Corps

Aviation Association, this

Aerocature™ shows the diverse range

of missions that Marine Corps Aviation

fulfills in service to the nation.

National interests are represented by

the USAF F-106 (top) at one time

flown by President George W. (note

the posing of the aircraft) Bush. “He”

is guarded by the F/A-18 Hornet (left)

and the AH-1W Sea Cobra (below

left). The VH-3 Sea King (below right)

serves as Marine One when the

President is aboard, while the EA-6B

Prowler (right) provides vital

electronic countermeasures protection.

Bullets, Bombs and Buzz

Cuts. The Marine Corps’ big gun

for now and the foreseeable

future is the F/A-18 Hornet. The

versatile aircraft can fight the bad

guys both in the air and on the

ground during the same mission.

With the addition of night-vision

goggles, Marine Corps Hornet

drivers can fly their deadly

missions regardless of where the

sun is—or isn’t—in the sky.

The Greatest Meets the Latest.

This AerocatureTM salutes the

Marine Corps Aviation community,

which has served the United States

with consistent determination and

professionalism since 1912.

Although the aircraft have changed,

the spirit and attitude of Marine

Corps aviators, flight crew members

and ground support personnel

remain constant as the torch is

passed to each new generation.

The following overview highlights many of the critical

components of Marine Aviation today. It is not intended to

be a comprehensive representation.

Marine Corps Aviation was officially born on

22 May 1912, when Lieutenant Alfred A.

Cunningham, USMC, reported to the aviation

camp at Annapolis, Md., for “duty in connection with

aviation.” Today, two factors continue to make Marine

Aviation unique: its close relationship with Naval

Aviation and its unchanging objective to provide direct

support to Marine ground forces in combat.

The tasks of Marine Aviation fall into six functional

areas: offensive air support, antiair warfare, assault

support, air reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and

control of aircraft and missiles. It is also employed in

nontraditional roles, such as providing direct support to

the President of the United States, aviation detachments

for independent duty and forces for counterdrug

operations; as well as participating in disaster relief

operations.

PH2 Alicia Tasz

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 33

The flexible support provided from both naval sea

basing and austere sites ashore and the ability to

operate successfully in a joint or combined

environment highlight the value of Marine Aviation’s

expeditionary capabilities. Marine Corps Aviation

seeks to provide a responsive, fully integrated,

balanced and ready Aviation Combat Element (ACE).

Further reorganization and refinement will be

implemented as required by future force structure

decisions. Weapon system improvements will continue

to maximize combat power to the Marine Air-Ground

Task Force (MAGTF), while offsetting the potential

for tactical obsolescence. Readiness and training will

continue to be emphasized to ensure unity of effort

through a consistently capable, high-quality and

responsive aviation force.

Facing page, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima (LHD 7)

displays an inspiring banner in March 2003. Facing page

inset, a Marine aircrewman loads ammunition into the

magazine of his M-16 while aboard Kearsage (LHD 3) in

February 2003. Above, HMH-462 CH-53Es pass over assault

amphibian vehicles during Operation Cobra Gold 2002 in

Thailand. Right, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Third Class

Jennifer Rohrbaugh signals an AH-1W Super Cobra of

MAG-29 embarked aboard Saipan (LHA 2) in January 2003.

PH3 Robert Stratchko

PHAN Kyle T. Voigt

34 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

MARINE HEAVY HELICOPTER

SQUADRON (HMH)

Flying the CH-53D Sea Stallion and CH-53E

Super Stallion, provides assault helicopter

transport of heavy weapons, equipment and

supplies during amphibious and subsequent ashore

operations.

Left, a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to the

Heavy Haulers of HMH-462 takes off to

demonstrate an amphibious assault during

Operation Cobra Gold 2002. Below, a CH-53E from

the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit ACE performs

deck landing qualifications aboard Essex (LHD 2).

CH-53D Sea Stallions from the Ugly Angels of HMH-

362 conduct troop lift operations for Landing Force

Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training in Brunei,

above, and execute heavy-lift operations in support of

Operation Crow Valley in the Philippines, right.

PHAN Marvin Thompson

SSgt. Jerry Morrison

Lt. Col. Doug Wadsworth

SSgt. Tad Ordoyne

Flying the AV-8B Harrier II, attacks and

destroys surface targets under all-weather

conditions, day and night.

MARINE ATTACK SQUADRON

Above, an AV-8B Harrier II Plus from the 24th

Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations

Capable) lands on the flight deck of Nassau

(LHA 4) after conducting flight operations in the

U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Right, a Harrier II from VMA-311

dumps fuel while chasing the

sun into MCAS Miramar, Calif.

Below right, a pair of AV-8Bs

from VMA-211 hold over

Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

waiting to recover. Above inset, a

VMA-311 Harrier II tanks with a

British L-1011 over Afghanistan

during a mission in support of

Operation Enduring Freedom

last year.

Capt. John Havener

Capt. Matt Haefner

Capt. Matt Haefner

36 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER

Flying the CH-46E Sea Knight, supplies assault transport of

combat troops in the initial assault waves and follow-on

stages of amphibious and subsequent ashore operations.

Top, a CH-46 Sea Knight prepares to take off

from Kearsarge (LHD 3), serving as the

flagship for the seven-ship Amphibious Task

Force East conducting missions in support

of Operation Enduring Freedom in February

2003. Above, Marines from the 24th Marine

Expeditionary Unit fast-rope from a CH-46

Sea Knight during their Training in an Urban

Environment Exercise. Left, a Marine

aircrewman prepares for flight in a CH-46E

Sea Knight out of Kandahar, Afghanistan,

during Operation Enduring Freedom.

PHC Johnny Bivera

PHAN Kenny Swartout

MARINE TACTICAL

ELECTRONIC WARFARE

SQUADRON (VMAQ)

Flying the EA-6B Prowler, conducts

airborne electronic warfare including

electronic attack/protection/support to

control the electromagnetic spectrum or

to attack the enemy in support of Fleet

Marine Force and joint operations.

Mike Wilson

Right, Capt. Dean Driskill of VMAQ-2

scans his equipment during a training

event. Below, VMAQ-2 crew members exit

their EA-6B Prowler at U.S. Naval Support

Activity Souda Bay, Crete, Greece, in

February 2003. The squadron is based at

MCAS Cherry Point, NC.

Paul Farley

38 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Flying the UH-1N “Huey” and AH-1W

Super Cobra, provides combat utility

helicopter support, attack helicopter fire

support and fire support coordination

during amphibious and subsequent ashore

operations.

MARINE LIGHT

ATTACK HELICOPTER

SQUADRON (HMLA)

Above, two AH-1W Super Cobra

helicopters from HMLA-167 fly over

Spain during a simulated close-airsupport

mission while participating

in Exercise Dynamic Mix 2002.

On board amphibious ships such as

Tarawa (LHA 1), “skids” are an

integral part of the ACE. Left, an AH-

1W Super Cobra takes off in the

Arabian Gulf. Below, ordnancemen

prepare a UH-1N Huey for flight.

Wendy Leland Wendy Leland

Flying the F/A-18D Hornet, attacks and destroys

surface targets under adverse weather conditions

during both day and night missions, conducts

multisensor imagery reconnaissance, provides

supporting arms coordination, and intercepts and

destroys enemy aircraft during all types of weather.

Flying the F/A-18A/C Hornet, intercepts and destroys enemy aircraft under

all-weather conditions, and attacks and destroys surface targets.

MARINE FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON

MARINE ALL-WEATHER

FIGHTER ATTACK

Top, a pair of VMFA-251 F/A-18s drop their hooks for the camera.

Above, an F/A-18 Hornet from VMFA-115 traps aboard Harry S. Truman

(CVN 75). Above right, F/A-18 weapon systems operator Capt. Joe E.

Maybach of VMFA(AW)-121 hugs his girlfriend before deploying for

Operation Enduring Freedom. Below, Capt. Chuck Gant photographed

himself and another VMFA(AW)-533 F/A-18D Hornet in formation.

PH3 Christopher B. Stoltz

40 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

MARINE AERIAL

REFUELER TRANSPORT

Flying the KC-130 Hercules, provides tactical

aerial refueling service to Marine aviation

units, maintaining an all-weather capability and

operating from a variety of bases. Other tasks

include assault air transport, casualty

evacuation and ground refueling of air and

ground assets.

Top, the excellent visibility from the KC-130 cockpit

is evident in this flight station photo showing two

VMGR-252 pilots flying their Hercules over California

last year. Inset to top, a KC-130F of VMGR-152

refuels two thirsty F/A-18C Hornets. Above, a KC-130

Hercules from VMGR-352 prepares for its next

mission at an undisclosed forward operating base,

while another Herc assigned to VMGR-252 takes off

on a mission to transport Marines, right, from the

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit back to Kandahar

Airport in Afghanistan.

CWO William D. Crow CWO William D. Crow

Ted Carlson

Ted Carlson

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 41

Flying the F-5E and F-5F Tiger

II, provides adversary tactics

training for Fleet Marine Force

and fleet squadrons.

Flying the VH-3D Sea King, VH-60N

Blackhawk, CH-46 and CH-53E,

provides the President of the United States

with helicopter transportation, and tests and

evaluates helicopter systems for the Fleet

Marine Force.

MARINE FIGHTER

TRAINING SQUADRON

Right, a VMFT-401 F-5E flies wing

on a squadron two-seat F-5F.

Rick Llinares

MARINE HELICOPTER

MARINE FIGHTER

ATTACK TRAINING

Left, a VH-60N from HMX-1 sports an

immaculate green and white paint job.

Flying the F/A-18A/C/D Hornet and the T-

34C Turbo-Mentor, provides the Fleet

Marine Force and fleet squadrons with

qualified F/A-18 Hornet pilots and weapon

Above, VMFAT-101 F/A-18Ds are used to train

pilots and WSOs for duty with VMFA(AW)

squadrons. Right, the T-34C is used for

spotting during training missions.

Chuck Lloyd

Marine AirWings

First MAW MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

Second MAW MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Third MAW MCAS Miramar, CA

Fourth MAW NAS JRB New Orleans, LA

Headquarters/Headquarters Squadrons

HHS-17 Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

HHS-18 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

HHS-27 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

HHS-28 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

HHS-37 MCAS Miramar, CA

HHS-38 MCAS Miramar, CA

HHS-Beaufort MCAS Beaufort, SC

HHS-Futenma MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

HHS-Iwakuni MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

HHS-Kaneohe MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

HHS-Miramar MCAS Miramar, CA

HHS-New River MCAS New River, NC

HHS-Yuma MCAS Yuma, AZ

Marine Wing Headquarters Squadrons

MWHS-1 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MWHS-2 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MWHS-3 MCAS Miramar, CA

Marine Wing Support Groups

MWSG-17 Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

MWSG-27 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MWSG-37 MCAS Miramar, CA

MWSG-47 Selfridge ANGB, MI

Marine Wing Communications Squadrons

MWCS-18 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MWCS-28 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MWCS-38 MCAS Miramar, CA

MWCS-48 NTC Great Lakes, IL

Marine Wing Support Squadrons

MWSS-171 MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

MWSS-172 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MWSS-271 Bogue Airfield, NC

MWSS-272 MCAS New River, NC

MWSS-273 MCAS Beaufort, SC

MWSS-274 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MWSS-371 MCAS Yuma, AZ

MWSS-372 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MWSS-373 MCAS Miramar, CA

MWSS-374 MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, CA

MWSS-471 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

MWSS-472 NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

MWSS-473 MCAS Miramar, CA

MWSS-474 NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA

Marine Aircraft Groups

MAG-11 MCAS Miramar, CA

MAG-12 MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

MAG-13 MCAS Yuma, AZ

MAG-14 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MAG-16 MCAS Miramar, CA

MAG-24 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

MAG-26 MCAS New River, NC

MAG-29 MCAS New River, NC

MAG-31 MCAS Beaufort, SC

MAG-36 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MAG-39 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MAG-41 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

MAG-42 NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

MAG-46 MCAS Miramar, CA

MAG-49 NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA

Marine Air Control Groups

MACG-18 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MACG-28 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MACG-38 MCAS Miramar, CA

MACG-48 NTC Great Lakes, IL

Attack Squadrons

VMA-211 MCAS Yuma, AZ

VMA-214 MCAS Yuma, AZ

VMA-223 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMA-231 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMA-311 MCAS Yuma, AZ

VMA-513 MCAS Yuma, AZ

VMA-542 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Fighter Attack Squadrons

VMFA-112 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

VMFA-115 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA-122 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA-134 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMFA-142 NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

VMFA-212 MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

VMFA-232 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMFA-251 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA-312 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA-314 MCAS Miramar, CA

42 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Marine Corps Aeronautical Organization—U.S. Marine Corps Aviation

VMFA-321 NAF Washington, DC

VMFA-323 MCAS Miramar, CA

All Weather Fighter Attack Squadrons

VMFA(AW)-121 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMFA(AW)-224 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA(AW)-225 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMFA(AW)-242 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMFA(AW)-332 MCAS Beaufort, SC

VMFA(AW)-533 MCAS Beaufort, SC

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons

VMAQ-1 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMAQ-2 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMAQ-3 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMAQ-4 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Aerial Refueler Transport Squadrons

VMGR-152 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

VMGR-234 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

VMGR-252 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

VMGR-352 MCAS Miramar, CA

VMGR-452 Stewart ANGB, NY

Transport Squadron

VMR-1 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons

VMU-1 MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, CA

VMU-2 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Heavy Helicopter Squadrons

HMH-361 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMH-362 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

HMH-363 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

HMH-461 MCAS New River, NC

HMH-462 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMH-463 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

HMH-464 MCAS New River, NC

HMH-465 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMH-466 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMH-769 Edwards AFB, CA

HMH-772 NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA

Helicopter Light Attack Squadrons

HMLA-167 MCAS New River, NC

HMLA-169 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMLA-267 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMLA-269 MCAS New River, NC

HMLA-367 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMLA-369 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMLA-773 NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

HMLA-775 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

Medium Helicopter Squadrons

HMM-161 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMM-162 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-163 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMM-165 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMM-166 MCAS Miramar, CA

HMM-261 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-262 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

HMM-263 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-264 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-265 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

HMM-266 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-268 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMM-364 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMM-365 MCAS New River, NC

HMM-764 Edwards AFB, CA

HMM-774 NS Norfolk, VA

Helicopter Squadron Experimental/Executive

Transport

HMX-1 MCAF Quantico, VA

Attack Training Squadron

VMAT-203 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Fighter Attack Training Squadron

VMFAT-101 MCAS Miramar, CA

Fighter Training Squadron

VMFT-401 MCAS Yuma, AZ

Aerial Refueler Transport Training Squadron

VMGRT-253 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Tilt-rotor Training Squadron

VMMT-204 MCAS New River, NC

Helicopter Training Squadrons

HMMT-164 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

HMT-301 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

HMT-302 MCAS New River, NC

HMT-303 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron

MAWTS-1 MCAS Yuma, AZ

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 43

Aviation Logistics Squadrons

MALS-11 MCAS Miramar, CA

MALS-12 MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

MALS-13 MCAS Yuma, AZ

MALS-14 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MALS-16 MCAS Miramar, CA

MALS-24 MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

MALS-26 MCAS New River, NC

MALS-29 MCAS New River, NC

MALS-31 MCAS Beaufort, SC

MALS-36 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MALS-39 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MALS-41 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

MALS-42 NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

MALS-46 MCAS Miramar, CA

MALS-49 NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA

Air Control Squadrons

MACS-1 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MACS-2 MCAS Beaufort, SC

MACS-4 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MACS-6 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MACS-7 MCAS Yuma, AZ

MACS-23 Buckley ANGB, CO

MACS-24 FCTC Dam Neck, VA

Air Support Squadrons

MASS-1 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MASS-2 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MASS-3 MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MASS-6 NTC Great Lakes, IL

Tactical Air Control Squadrons

MTACS-18 MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MTACS-28 MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MTACS-38 MCAS Miramar, CA

MTACS-48 NTC Great Lakes, IL

Low Altitude Air Defense Battalions

First Stinger Battery MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

Second LAAD MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Third LAAD MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

Fourth LAAD Pasadena, CA

Shore Commands

Air Bases Eastern Area MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Air Bases Western Area MCAS Miramar, CA

Bogue Airfield, NC

Buckley ANGB, CO

Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

Edwards AFB, CA

FCTC Dam Neck, VA

Marine Aviation Detachment NAWS China Lake, CA

Marine Aviation Detachment NAWC Patuxent River, MD

Marine Aviation Training

Support Group NAS Corpus Christi, TX

Marine Aviation Training

Support Group NAS Lemoore, CA

Marine Aviation Training

Support Group NAS Meridian, MS

Marine Aviation Training (Continued on next page)

44 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Capt. Stan V. DeGeus, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), watches an AV-8B Harrier II hover within feet of

the bridge window.

PH3 Staci M. Bitzer

Support Group NAS Pensacola, FL

Marine Aviation Training

Support Group NAS Whidbey Island, WA

MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, CA

MCAF Kaneohe Bay, HI

MCAF Quantico, VA

MCAS Beaufort, SC

MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA

MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Miramar, CA

MCAS New River, NC

MCAS Yuma, AZ

NAF Washington, DC

NAS JRB Atlanta, GA

NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX

NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA

NTC Great Lakes, IL

Pasadena, CA

Selfridge ANGB, MI

Stewart ANGB, NY

Note: Organization chart includes only Marine Aviation units

active as of press time. Information compiled by the Naval

Aviation History Branch, Naval Historical Center.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 45

Most people think of an “ace” as the highest card in

a deck of playing cards. The dictionary also

defines the word as an expert in a given field—

someone at the top of their “game.” The latter accurately

describes former Marine pilot Lieutenant Colonel John F.

Bolt, USMC (Ret.). A Naval Aviator during WW II and

Korea, Bolt is one of only a few aces to shoot down five

or more enemy aircraft during two wars, and the only

Marine jet ace in Korea.

Born on 19 May 1921 in Laurens, S.C., Bolt’s family

later moved to Florida where he attended college. He

began his Marine Corps career in

1942 at Pensacola, Fla., and earned

his wings later that year. His first

tour of duty was with the famed

Black Sheep of Marine Fighter

Squadron (VMF) 214 during WW II. Bolt scored his first

six victories while flying the Vought F-4U Corsair during

the Solomon Islands campaign. The six kills were

recorded in less than four months. On 23 September

1923, then-Captain Bolt got his first two Zeros. Three

weeks later he shot down a Zeke, and while making his

way back to base destroyed an enemy barge with 25 to

30 Japanese aboard. In December of that year he added

two Zekes and finished his sixth kill on 4 January 1944.

During this time, one admiral called Bolt “a one-man

war on Japanese shipping.”

Bolt stayed on active duty after the war, and

following a staff tour he was assigned duty in

Korea in mid-1952, flying ground attack

missions in F9F Panther jets with VMF-115. In March

1953, he was one of only four Marine pilots invited to

fly a 90-day exchange tour with the Air Force. Attached

to the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, he became

wingman to Capt. Joseph McConnell, the Air Force’s

leading jet ace. Bolt flew the North American F-86 Sabre

on 34 sweeps and shot down 4 MiG-15s, one each on 16

May and 22, 25, 30 June. He got a three-month exchange

extension and added two more victories on 11 July to

become a jet ace.

Of all the combat missions in which Bolt participated,

one stands out. “The only one I

vividly remember after 50 years is

when my wingman, Ed Harper, got a

kill just before I got one,” Bolt said.

“He was down 300 or 400 feet

below me. We were going through a gaggle of enemy

aircraft, and they were all scattered around. I looked

down and old ‘Harpo’ had blown one up, and then he

flew right into a fireball. About that time I was in a

shooting position, so I turned around and was banging

away. I shot down one or maybe even two. I didn’t

expect to ever see Harpo again. I didn’t on the way

home; we were separated. When we got home, his plane

was just smoked up. We could take our fingers and drag

them down the wing or anywhere on his plane, leaving

lines in the soot.”

The flying skills and courage it takes to make

an “ace” is what sets these fliers apart. With his

extraordinary records compiled during two

wars, John F. Bolt is indeed an ace among

aces.

Lt. Col. Bolt retired from the Marine Corps in 1962

and went on to prosperous careers in both business

and law. He and his wife of almost 60 years,

Dottie, reside in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 45

AN ACE AMONG ACES

Below, Capt. John Bolt as a transition jet

pilot in 1949 climbs into his TO-1 Seastar

while assigned to VMF-311.

By JO1(SW) Ed Wright

This article summarizes

activities during the last

phase of the Korean War.

To understand the military

conflict in Korea, it is

important to know the

mood of the American

people and the state of

readiness of our military

forces when the war

began. It was a military

conflict without a

declaration of war, and for the personnel involved

it was a frustrating and dangerous war for

survival. From a military viewpoint, operations

were frequently constrained by politically

dictated rules of

engagement that

prevented a quick ending

to the conflict. Public

support dwindled as the

fighting continued and

casualties mounted.

Though WW II had

ended successfully in the

mid-1940s, the American

people were tired of war

and could no longer

foresee any military threat to the United States or

world peace. As a result of demobilization efforts,

military budgets and manpower requirements

were given lower priority within the national

46 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

When the Korean conflict commenced in June

1950, I was a flight instructor in Advanced

Training Unit (ATU) 1 of the Naval Aviation

Training Command at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The

unit’s F4U Corsair trainers had previously performed on

a five-day schedule, but now flight operations were often

suspended several days prior to the end of each month

due to lack of funds for aircraft fuel. All of Naval

Aviation was in a reduced state of readiness during the

efforts to transition from prop-driven to jet-powered

aircraft, especially during a period of reduced military

spending. Many Navy and Marine Corps squadrons were

well below their normal operating allowance of

manpower and aircraft.

An early indication of the seriousness of the situation

was when the training command was ordered to transfer

all of its F4Us to Navy and Marine Corps fleet

squadrons. The Corsairs were replaced by WW II-vintage

F6F Hellcats that had been stored in the Arizona desert.

The poor condition of the F6Fs and a sudden demand to

increase the rate of pilot training placed an unusually

heavy workload on the training units. At the same time,

there was a shortage of experienced pilots in the fleet

squadrons, and many of the flight instructors and critical

maintenance personnel were assigned to fleet units.

Since I had just returned from an overseas tour, I was

retained in the training command and given additional

duties as aircraft maintenance officer. ATU-1 was

operating about 30 training aircraft with only 100

maintenance personnel. The challenge to meet the

accelerated flight training schedule was tremendous.

The sudden and unexpected military operations in

Korea highlighted a number of other requirements. Based

on experience gained during WW II and in the transition

to jet aircraft, it became apparent that Naval Aviators

needed to improve their skills in instrument flying. The

U.S. Naval School, All Weather Flight at Corpus Christi

provided second-tour Navy and Marine Corps aviators a

three-month postgraduate course in instrument flying.

Looking back, this was probably one of the best flying

experiences and insurance that a Naval Aviator could

have.

By mid-1951 I was ordered to the Marine Corps Air

Technical Training School at Quantico, Va., to be an

instructor in aircraft maintenance. The war was heating

up and many of my peers were sent to Korea. In 1952,

after completing jet refresher training in F9F Panthers, I

departed in December with other replacement pilots for

Japan, where I was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron

(VMA) 323 in Korea. On 23 December I flew my first

combat flight against an interdiction target in North

Korea, where we received a

significant amount of small arms

and medium antiaircraft fire. By

the end of the month I had flown

four interdiction missions and

three close-air-support missions.

By this time military operations in Korea had been

going on for more than two years. United Nations (UN)

forces in South Korea consisted of military units from

the United States, the British Commonwealth, South

Korea and 13 other allied nations. U.S. Navy forces were

under the direction of Commander Carrier Task Force 77.

The First Marine Aircraft Wing was responsible for

Marine air power in South Korea. Marine Aircraft

Groups (MAG) 33 and 12 were the two tactical

fighter/attack groups. MAG-33 included VMFs 115 and

311 with F9Fs; Marine All-Weather Fighter Squadron

513 flying F3D Skynights and F4U-5N and F7F Tigercat

night-fighter aircraft; and Marine Photographic Squadron

1 operating F2H-2P Banshees, F7F-3P Tigercats, F4U-

5Ps and F9F-2Ps. MAG-12 consisted of VMA-121 flying

ADs, VMAs 223 and 323 with F4U and AU Corsairs,

and VMF-312 flying F4Us. Two squadrons were

assigned to the First Marine Division (Ground Force) for

direct support. Marine Observation Squadron 6 flew OY

Sentinel and OE Bird Dog observation aircraft, TBM

Avengers and HTL and HO5S helicopters, while Marine

Helicopter Transport Squadron 161 operated HRS and

H05S helicopters for troop lift, supply delivery,

medevacs and recovery of downed pilots. In addition,

Marine Wing Support Squadron 1 R5D Skymasters and

R4D Skytrains carried mail, aircraft parts and personnel

in and out of Korea, and flew occasional combat support

missions.

Supporting elements included Marine Wing Support

Group 17, which provided aircraft maintenance and

logistic support from its base in Japan. The Marine

Aircraft Control Group supplied ground radar support for

the control of Marine aircraft at airfields, and tactical

control radar for all-weather precision bombing along the

frontlines. In addition, AD-4W Skyraider electronic

warfare aircraft located, jammed and collected

information on enemy radars and radio communications.

As operations officer of VMA-323, I learned that

mission requirements fell into six general categories:

interdiction, close air support, armed reconnaissance,

rescue combat air patrol, precision radar bombing and air

defense. The first two were predominant. The North

Korean and Chinese enemy forces set up extensive

antiaircraft defenses that made most close-air-support

missions difficult and dangerous. Interdiction missions

scheduled in areas of heavy enemy antiaircraft weapon

defenses often included flak-suppression aircraft, which

released proximity-fused bombs that were dropped from a

high altitude and set to explode between 50 and 100 feet

above the ground to suppress enemy fire. For close-airsupport

missions the target was usually within range of

friendly artillery positions, so

timing and coordination were very

important to take maximum

advantage of the artillery-fired flak

suppression without risking

damage to the strike aircraft.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 47

Facing page: top, the AU-1 version of

the F4U Corsair was flown by Marine

squadrons; bottom, VMA-323 pilots return

from a mission, l–r, Capt. Pineo, Maj. Miller,

Capt. Coleman and Lt.Watts. Photos

courtesy of Peter B. Mersky

Armed reconnaissance missions were possibly the

least complex of all assigned missions. They were

normally scheduled in areas of known heavy enemy

ground activity. With the exceptions of railroad/road

tunnels and bridges, the targets were usually highly

mobile, such as trains, trucks, tanks and large troop

movements.

Rescue Combat Air Patrol (RESCAP) was a very

important mission and a real morale booster for aircrews.

It consisted of a division of four aircraft with a wide

variety of armament. The purpose was to remain on

station for three and a half hours and be prepared to

proceed to any area of friendly downed aircrews and

prevent their capture by enemy forces until friendly

recovery aircraft arrived. RESCAP aircrews not only

endured a long time in the air, but in winter months they

had to wear a rubber anti-immersion suit, known as a

“poopy suit,” which provided them protection from the

freezing water if they ditched. Besides being clumsy, the

suits had no ventilation and no way for the crew member

to relieve nature’s requirements. In spite of these

conditions, aircrews seldom complained about being

scheduled for RESCAP missions.

Precision radar bombing missions were used against

targets normally within 10 miles of the frontlines and

heavily defended by enemy antiaircraft weapons. They

were also used at frequent intervals during periods of

darkness and bad weather as harassing fires to prevent

enemy movements.

Most air defense missions were performed by U.S. Air

Force aircraft, except for night operations. The versatility

of a Marine night-fighter squadron flying F3D allweather

jets and F7F and F4U reciprocating-engine

fighters proved to be very effective. Several daylight

Marine interdictions missions were intercepted and

attacked by North Korean/Chinese MiG-15 aircraft;

however, the air-to-air armament on all Marine aircraft

and the tactics used by Marine pilots successfully

countered the enemy’s efforts.

Air-to-air and air-to-ground communications security

was a factor that became increasingly important for all

missions. The enemy forces had learned to interpret our

six-digit coordinate ground locations transmitted in the

clear. A very simple system was devised in which several

letters of the alphabet corresponded to a number from

zero through nine. Known as the “Shackle Code,” it was

changed every two hours. The person transmitting a

location would preface his remarks with the statement

“Shackle” and then provide six letters corresponding to

the six numbers that he wished to pass. This system

worked very well since the two-hour period of each code

did not provide adequate time for the code to be

compromised.

During the 120 days that I was assigned to VMA-323,

the squadron averaged 20 to 22 F4U-4B and AU-1

Corsairs and 20 to 22 pilots. During this period the

48 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

Above, a VMF(AW)-513 F4U-5N night-fighter taxis at

Pusan, December 1950. Right, a Marine Helicopter

Transport Squadron 161 HRS unloads rockets and

launchers behind the frontlines. Facing page: top, a

Marine F9F Panther releases napalm bombs (note arrows)

in a supply area of North Korea, June 1953; bottom, Maj.

Tom Miller (left) participates in the repatriation of prisoner

of war 1st Lt. Baugh at Freedom Village, 31 August 1953.

Marvin Wallace courtesy Warren Thompson

squadron lost five pilots, including the executive officer,

as a result of enemy action.

In May 1953, I was assigned to

the headquarters staff of the First

Marine Air Wing as the targets

officer of the Target Planning

Group, which developed targets

most beneficial to Marine forces

and scheduled Marine aircraft to

strike them. In July I transferred to

the Marine Liaison Office of the

Joint Operations Center in Seoul.

After numerous efforts by the

United Nations to get the North

Korean and Chinese Communists

to agree to a cease-fire, on 10 July 1953 they returned to

negotiations in North Korea. On 27 July a cease-fire was

signed, and 12 hours later all combat operations ceased.

Negotiations continued to work out the details of the

agreement and a procedure for the exchange of prisoners

of war. The UN commander tasked the Commanding

General of the First Marine Division to set up and run a

reception center for the returning UN prisoners in his

area of responsibility. This facility became known as

“Freedom Village” and I was assigned to act as the

general’s representative there. On 4

September the first UN prisoners were

repatriated at Panmunjom and driven by

ambulances across the Han River to

Freedom Village, about 30 miles north of

Seoul, South Korea.

By about 0900 each morning a list

arrived at Freedom Village with the names

of the prisoners who were being

repatriated that day. The returning

prisoners arrived at about 1100 dressed in

the blue pajamas that they were issued

when taken prisoners.

The repatriation process commenced

with the prisoners being given showers,

medical examinations and new uniforms

from their branch of service, followed by

intelligence debriefings. Only a few had

to be helped or carried on stretchers.

Following debriefing, those who desired

were allowed to be interviewed by the

press. The repatriated prisoners were

then transported to an Army hospital near

Seoul. In my view, most of the prisoners

were suffering from malnutrition and

some had scars and bruises indicating

they had been physically mistreated. The

prisoner exchange lasted about a month

and I returned to my duties in the Joint

Operations Center. In mid-December I

received orders for return to the United

States.

My tour in Korea was a most interesting and valuable

experience. It gave me the

opportunity to observe and

participate in a truly joint military

operation involving a wide variety

of unique military forces operating

under a single UN force

commander. Based on my 37 years

of active military service at all

levels of command during WW II,

Korea, two tours in Vietnam and as

commander of two Marine airground

landing force operations in

NATO, effective joint operations

are not new. The lessons learned in

prior conflicts can be seen in the way our warfighters do

business today. The combined strengths of each military

service bring a stronger and more cohesive fighting force

to missions around the globe.

When Lt. Gen Miller retired in 1979, he was Deputy Chief of Staff for

Aviation in Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. The staff

of Naval Aviation News extends special thanks for his support in

producing this tribute issue to Marine Aviation.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 49

50

HIT THE

BEACH!

Above, a landing craft leaves the well

deck of Tarawa (LHA 1) with

equipment and Marines of the 15th

Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special

Operations Capable), while a CH-53E

Super Stallion heads to the beach.

Right, Sgt. Rick Wiggins prepares to

load a 15th MEU (SOC) Marine and his

motorcycle for a helicopter flight into

Kuwait.

PH3 Taylor Goode

PH3 Larry Carlson

Awards

NAS JRB Willow Grove, Pa.,

was awarded the 2002 CNRFC

Activity Award for Achievement in

Safety Ashore, recognizing a

superior record and consciousness in

reserve base safety.

Mr. Larry E. Hollingsworth,

director of the Aircraft Operations

Division Avionics Department,

NAVAIRSYSCOM, NAS Patuxent

River, Md., was awarded the

Lockheed Martin 2003 Black

Engineer of the Year Award for

Professional Achievement in

Government.

The small shore command winner

of the 2002 Navy Project Good

Neighbor Flagship Award is VT-

35, NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The

award recognizes the squadron’s

excellent relationship with the local

community, specifically through the

Pilot for a Day program.

Lt. Frank Seguin is the first

recipient of Naval Test Wing

Atlantic’s Harry R. Errington

Maintenance Officer of the Year

award, which honors his dedication

and excellent work.

VR-53 received the Naval

Reserve Association’s Admiral Phil

Smith Operational Excellence

Award Trophy, which is based on

outstanding resource management,

detachment performance, fiscal

efficiency and overall operational

excellence.

Scan Pattern

Nearly 100 Marines from Marine

Aviation Logistics Squadron

(MALS) 13, MCAS Yuma, Ariz.,

integrated with Sailors from the

aircraft intermediate maintenance

department (AIMD) aboard

Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) to

form the team that maintains and

repairs embarked aircraft aboard the

amphibious assault ship. For the

ship’s transit to the North Arabian

Sea, Bonhomme Richard embarked

19 AV-8B Harrier IIs from VMAs

211 and 311. To keep the aircraft

flying, the AIMD houses a host of

repair shops that can fix anything

from aircraft computers to the AV-

8B’s Rolls Royce F402-RR-408

engines. The increase in

maintenance experience helps

Bonhomme Richard’s AIMD prepare

better for future operational support.

For more information, visit

www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd6.

The Marines of MALS-29 hoisted

a vintage UH-34 Seahorse back onto

its pedestal at the front gate of

MCAS New River, N.C. The event

marked the culmination of

restoration efforts to bring new life

to a familiar local landmark.

Work on the historic aircraft

posed some special challenges. The

restoration team found severe

corrosion, seized bearings and dryrotted

tires, and the Marines had to

look outside normal channels for

replacement parts and technical

specifications. The Marine Museum

at Quantico, Va., and the “Flying

Tigers,” a Marine veterans group

who flew the aircraft in Vietnam,

provided valuable assistance in

locating part manufacturers and

technical manuals. The restoration

involved replacing the tires and

bearings, corrosion treatment,

painting and marking the aircraft.

The UH-34 restoration provided an

opportunity to showcase capabilities

typically found in a Marine aviation

logistics squadron, such as structural

repair, corrosion treatment and

tire/wheel maintenance, ground

support equipment and dynamic

component repair. Once repairs were

completed, the aircraft was towed to

the front gate and lifted back into

place. The project gave MALS-29

Marines the opportunity to honor

their predecessors and preserve a

piece of Marine aviation history.

The Naval Personnel

Development Command (NPDC)

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 51

E d i t e d b y J O 2 D a n B a l l

Cdr. William McCool, one of the seven astronauts lost in the 1 February STS-107

Columbia tragedy, was added to the NAS Whidbey Island,Wash., EA-6B Prowler

Memorial.

PHS Michael Larson

officially stood up during a

ceremony at NS Norfolk, Va., on 10

January. NPDC’s goal is to create a

more agile, responsive warfighting

organization. RAdm. J. Kevin

Moran will command the new

organization, as well as continue as

head of the Task Force for

Excellence through Commitment to

Education and Learning. The

Revolution in Training has brought

about a major reorganization of

Navy education and training,

including the establishment of the

NPDC and 13 learning centers that

standardize the training development

and delivery process for all Sailors.

Reporting to the Chief of Naval

Education and Training, NPDC will

provide support and ensure

standardization of training

technologies and methodologies at

the learning centers, while working

closely with the Fleet Forces

Command and the lead type

commands to meet the fleet’s

training needs. Under the new

organizational structure, schools

offering training in career

specialties, such as aviation or

subsurface, will report to and

coordinate training initiatives with

their respective learning center.

52 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

OPERATION BENGAL TIGER

Marine All-Weather Fighter Squadron

242 participated in Operation Bengal

Tiger with the Bangladesh Air Force

(BAF). The humanitarian assistance

exercise demonstrated the F/A-18

Hornet to the BAF. Top left,

VMFA(AW)-242 CO Lt. Col. T. G.

Kemper and his BAF counterpart

after a MiG-21 cross-training flight.

Above, Capt “Triple F” Fitzpatrick

explains the F/A-18D’s missions to

Bangladeshis. Left, VMFA(AW)-242

Hornets conduct low-level training

over the Bangladesh countryside

with BAF aircrew aboard. Photos by

Capt. John Knotts, USMC.

The Naval Air Maintenance

Training Group Milton Detachment

Aviation Maintenance Officer

(AMO) School officially opened at

NAS Whiting Field, Fla., on 6

February. The school was relocated

in December 2002 from Naval

Aviation Schools Command, NAS

Pensacola, Fla. It is staffed by five

Navy and two Marine Corps officer

instructors, five Navy and one

Marine Corps enlisted instructor and

one enlisted technical publications

librarian. The AMO School offers

two courses of instruction. The 70-

day indoctrination course is

designed for newly commissioned

Navy and Marine Corps officers

with little or no prior maintenance

experience, selected Naval Air

Systems Command-sponsored

civilian interns and international

military officers. During the year,

five indoctrination classes provide

students with the tools required to

perform in an entry-level aircraft

maintenance position. Students will

also be taught managerial

responsibilities and administrative

duties associated with aviation

maintenance.

The 25-day manager’s course is

geared toward Navy and Marine

Corps limited duty officers, chief

warrant officers, aviation

maintenance duty officers and

senior enlisted maintenance

specialists who have acquired

considerable maintenance

experience. This course provides

instruction on the duties and

responsibilities required to direct

an aviation maintenance activity.

For related news, see

www.news.navy.mil/local/naswf.

Records

HT-18 TH-57 Sea Ranger

records: Cdr. Jimmy Davis, 6,000

flight hours, January; LCdr. Scottie

Womach and Lt. John Knotts, both

USCG, 5,500 flight hours,

September 2002; Cdr. John Quillian,

4,500 flight hours, February; LCdr.

John Tracey, 4,000 flight hours,

December 2002; LCdr. Robert

Woodburn, 4,000 flight hours,

January; LCdr. Larry Craft, 3,000

flight hours, November 2002; and

LCdr. Kurt Woltersdorf, 3,000 flight

hours, January.

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 53

VMFA-251

In 1942 Marine Fighter Attack Squadron

(VMFA) 251’s predecessor, Marine

Observation Squadron 251, was flying

aerial reconnaissance in F4F Wildcats.

Today, the Thuderbolts fill a fighter-attack

role with the F/A-18 Hornet. Their

mission is to intercept and destroy enemy

aircraft and attack and destroy surface

targets under all weather conditions,

operating from aircraft carriers, advanced

bases and expeditionary airfields.

The Thunderbolts deployed to the

Arabian Sea in support of the war on

terrorism in October 2001 aboard

Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). For the

next five months, they executed operations

against Taliban and al Qaeda forces.

Flying more than 750 combat missions

and accumulating more than 3,500 flight

hours, the TBolts dropped more than

445,000 pounds of ordnance. While

aboard TR, the squadron spent 159

continuous days at sea in support of

Operation Enduring Freedom.

Again deployed to the Middle East in

support of the global war on terrorism and

future contingency operations, the

Thunderbolts of VMFA-251 remain as

their motto states: Custos Caelorum

“Guardians of the Skies.”

A flight deck crewman protects his ears as a VMFA-251

Thunderbolts F/A-18 Hornet launches from Theodore Roosevelt

(CVN 71) during Operation Enduring Freedom.

PH3(AW) Travis Ross

VAQ-133 logged its 10,000th

Class A mishap-free flight hour in

December 2002.

VAW-124 CO Cdr. Vincent

Bowhers surpassed 4,000 flight

hours in the E-2C Hawkeye while

stationed aboard Theodore Roosevelt

(CVN 71).

John F. Kennedy (CV 67)

recorded a milestone when the ship’s

number one catapult surpassed its

150,000th launch.

A CH-46E Sea Knight of Marine

Medium Helicopter Squadron 162

surpassed 36 years and 10,000 flight

hours of operational duty.

Rescues

In January an F-14D Tomcat

from VF-13 went down in the water

two miles short of the flight deck of

Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), but

the pilot and RIO had ejected from

the aircraft. A rescue crew from

HS-3 heard the call while training

and saw the plane splash into the

ocean. After coordinating with the

ship, they headed to the site. The

pilot of the downed craft was in the

water five minutes before being

brought aboard the helicopter, and

the radar intercept officer, who was

able to put out a survival raft to

await rescue, was aboard in another

five minutes. The helicopter was

back at TR just 18 minutes after the

plane was reported down. The two

Tomcat crewmen walked to the

ship’s medical department for

treatment and observation.

54 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

CVW-3: Capt. Mark A. Vance

relieved Capt. David L. Philman,

12 Jan.

Electronic Attack Weapons

School: Cdr. Angelo A. McCoy

relieved Cdr. Paul S. Dillman, 8

Jan.

Iwo Jima (LHD 7): Capt. John

W. Snedeker relieved Capt. John T.

Nawjocki, 13 Dec 02.

VFA-136: Cdr. Scott D. Conn

relieved Cdr. Thomas M. Downing,

7 Feb.

VFA-137: Cdr. Walter H.

Stammer III relieved Cdr. David

M. Dober, 15 Jan.

VMR-1: Lt. Col. Jon C.

Cunningham relieved Lt. Col. G. G.

Garfield, 17 Jan.

VR-62: Cdr. Rob Smith relieved

Cdr. C. H. Harris, 11 Jan.

VS-41: Cdr. Ross A. Myers

relieved Capt. Edmund L. Turner,

10 Apr.

VT-28: Cdr. David R. Price

relieved Cdr. Richard W. Watson,

15 Nov 02.

VX-23: Capt. Steven Rorke

relieved Col. Joe Mortensen, 24

Jan.

C H A N G E O F C O M M A N D

A Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 CH-53E Super Stallion prepares to

receive fuel from a KC-130 Hercules during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

A Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 CH-53E Super Stallion unloads

Marines and artillery from the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment during

Exercise Rolling Thunder.

Cpl. Juan Vara

Naval Aviation News May–June 2003 55

Supporting III Marine Expeditionary Forces (III MEF)

operations or contingencies throughout the Pacific

theater, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 24 remains

focused on defending our nation.

Activated in March 1942 at MCAS Ewa, Hawaii, the

Marines and Sailors of MAG-24 continue today at MCB

Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, providing combat-ready

expeditionary aviation forces capable of short-notice

worldwide deployment in support of Marine Air-Ground

Task Force operations. MAG-24 also provides initial,

conversion and transition training for all CH-53D Sea

Stallion aircrews and intermediate maintenance activity

and supply support to Commander Naval Air Force,

U.S. Pacific Fleet.

MAG-24 consists of three tactical and one training

helicopter squadron, one aviation logistics squadron and

a headquarters element. Flying the CH-53D Sea Stallion,

approximately 40 MAG-24 aircraft are

assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing deployed

across the Pacific theater. The CH-53D is capable of

heavy lift assault support and transporting either cargo

or passengers.

Activated in 1952, the Ugly Angels of Marine Heavy

Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 362 (shown above over

the Mokulua Islands near Oahu) remains a squadron rich

in tradition. Not only holding the distinction of having

served as the first Marine aircraft unit in the Republic of

Vietnam, the squadron also served with their CH-53D

Sea Stallions in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm

and during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.

Activated in 1952, the Red Lions of HMH-363

served in Vietnam, participating in humanitarian relief

operations in the Philippines and during Operation

Restore Hope in Somalia. Operating from multiple

geographical locations, the squadron provides

uninterrupted assault support to the III MEF across the

Pacific.

Reactivated in 1966 as HMH-463, the Pegasus

joined MAG-24 in 1971. Deploying to the Republic of

Vietnam, the Pegasus shared with the Heavy Haulers

of HMH-462 the unique distinction of participating in

Operations Frequent Wind and Eagle Pull, the final

evacuations of Cambodia and Vietnam in 1975.

Activated at MCAS Santa Ana, Calif., in 1966 to

prepare UH-34D Sea Horse aircrews for service in

Vietnam, the Wind Walkers of Marine Helicopter

Training Squadron (HMT) 301 continue their

mission today, providing quality replacement aircrew

training on the CH-53D Sea Stallion, CH-53E Super

Stallion and CH-46E Sea Knight. Today, six CH-53Ds

provide the training platform for an annual output of

approximately 14 pilots and 32 crew chiefs.

The Island Warriors of Marine Aviation Logistics

Squadron (MALS) 24 became the first fully integrated

Marine and Navy maintenance unit. MALS-24 provides

intermediate maintenance activity support for 10

squadrons and more than 80 Navy and Marine aircraft,

including Navy P-3C, EP-3A Orions and SH-60B

Seahawks and Marine CH-53D Sea Stallions. It also

supports the Marine’s Unit Deployment Program and

numerous Navy Pacific theater deployments. Their

M A G - 2 4

Sgt. Marcus Wasden

Carey, Alan C. Leatherneck Bombers: Marine Corps

B-25/PBJ Mitchell Squadrons in World War II.

Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 4880 Lower Valley Rd.,

Atglen, PA 19310-9717. 2002. 112 pp. Ill. $24.95.

Although we might question the need for a second

book on the Marine Corps use of the North

American Mitchell, this latest effort is welcome if

only for its more in-depth treatment of the subject.

Phalanx (now part of Specialty Press) published Jerry

Scutts’ Marine Mitchells in 1993, which we reviewed in

this column.

The author devotes a chapter to each of the seven

Marine Mitchell squadrons. There are details on aircraft

assigned and lost, as well as an account of the crewmen

lost in action and operationally. Carey takes full

advantage of input from veterans, including personal

recollections and photos, which add interest to the book.

Graphics also include a series of color profiles of various

aircraft.

The Marine Corps got its rather unusual bombers

apparently because the Army had too many B-25s and the

Navy didn’t want them. The PBJ squadrons saw

considerable action during the last two years of the war,

losing 99 aircraft, including 44 in combat, as well as 195

men. The young crews flew their large, twin-engine

bombers with élan and sometimes paid with their lives.

Carey describes VMB-423’s mission to drop a scroll

signed by 35,000 school children in Oklahoma in May

1944, but sadly does not include the photo showing

squadron crewmen lined up with the lengthy roll of paper.

Also, there was VMB-611, the only Marine Mitchell

squadron in the Philippines in early 1945. Arriving in

March, five months after the start of General Douglas

MacArthur’s campaign to return to his beloved islands,

VMB-611 was led by Lieutenant Colonel Jack Cram, who

had earned fame and the Navy Cross at Guadalcanal.

Unfortunately, there are a number of typos and inverted

and dropped letters. One appears on page 75 where the

author describes Lt. Col. Cram as “excepting a

commission” when he obviously was accepting his

second lieutenant’s bars. However, overall, this is a good

history of a group of obscure units operating a different

aircraft than usually associated with the Marines.

Hoffman, Colonel Jon T., USMCR, ed. USMC, A

Complete History. Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc.,

and the Marine Corps Association, Box 1775,

Quantico, VA 22134. 2002. 656 pp. Ill. $75.

Easily the biggest in this publisher’s continuing

series on American service branches, this volume is

the second work that focuses on the Corps. The

first was in the now-established format of a collection of

essays, complemented by high-quality photography and

art, describing various aspects of the Marine Corps. This

new book is a daily account of the Marines from their

formation in 1775 through the early stages of Operation

Enduring Freedom in 2002. It’s truly a Herculean effort

that warrants the hefty price.

Resplendent in a padded, camouflaged cover with a

cloth patch, this chronology takes full advantage of

various contributors’ skills and knowledge, as well as

photos, paintings and illustrations from the Marine

Corps Historical Center. The artwork comes from such

luminaries as retired Colonel Charles H. Waterhouse and

other Marine Corps combat artists.

The rich, colorful history of the early Corps fills the

large pages with stories and details many people might

not know. The Korean War sections contain great

photos and artwork, along with interesting facts that are

only now getting deserved attention on the conflict’s

50th anniversary. There are detailed sidebars that

describe battles, facilities, personalities and hardware,

from rifles to aircraft. The last category includes such

stalwarts as the F4F Wildcat and less familiar types like

the PBJ (B-25) Mitchell, which saw a surprising amount

of action in the last two years of the Pacific war (see

Leatherneck Bombers in this column).

Unfortunately, there are the inevitable errors that

crop up in such a massive work and many are related to

aviation subjects. The photo on page 591 continues the

misidentification of a VMF(AW)-235 F-8E Corsair as

belonging to VMF(AW)-312. The red nose and white

stars of 235 are too prominent to miss. The artwork on

page 220 does not match up with the caption, and the

painting on page 264 shows an F4F attacking a Nell

bomber, not a Zero fighter. A few of the aviation photos

would have been better served with more detailed

captions, such as the picture on page 367 showing a

lineup of VMF-214. The names of the pilots are

available, and because the picture shows two of the

Black Sheep aces, Chris Magee and John Bolt, more

research would have added value. Surprisingly, there is

no mention of the role Marine Corps aviators played in

the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, flying Blue Moon

reconnaissance missions over Cuba during that tense,

dangerous period.

Each historical period receives full treatment,

resulting in a ready reference as well as many hours of

good browsing. I say “ready” but the large book is a

handful to hold in one’s lap for a long time. These

points noted, this terrific book deserves a place in the

libraries of researchers, enthusiasts and, of course,

former and current Marines.

56 Naval Aviation News May–June 2003

By Cdr. Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret.)