THE MARINE CORPS PILOT'S CREDO: I am a United States Marine flyer. My countrymen built the best airplane in the world and entrusted it to the absolute limit of my power. With my fellow pilots, air crews, and deck crews, my plane and I will doanything necessary to carry out our tremendous responsibilities. I will always remember that we are part of an unbeatable combat team - The United States Marine Corps. When the going is fast and rough, I will not falter. I will be uncompromising in every blow I strike. I will be humble in victory. I am a Marine flyer. I have dedicated myself to my country, with its many millions of all races, colors, and creeds. They and their way of life are worthy of my greatest protective effort. I ask the help of GOD in making that effort great enough
Marine F-8 tales and more! Click here for Mofak's website
The History of Marine F-8 units Courtesy Steven Albright [email@example.com] **************** Devil Dogs VMF-111 and Wolfpack, Cowboys VMF & VMF(AW)-112 MAG-41, NAS Dallas, TX In 1963, VMF-111, 112, and 413 shared the use of AF-1E Furyís at NAS Dallas, in Grand Prairie, Texas. VMF-413 was deactivated in January, leaving 111 and 112 to share their aircraft with two Navy reserve units. The F-8A Crusader arrived in July, and the Dallas units enjoyed the luxury of having the Vought manufacturing plant located on the other side of the runway. The two squadrons were assigned to MAG-41, 4th Marine Air Wing in April of 1965. The Devil Dogs were awarded the MARTC Safety Award in September of 1965, and were deactivated on October 22nd. The Wolf Pack adopted the name, Cowboys in July 1967, in honor of the local NFL team. As F-8ís became more plentiful, VMF-112 was no longer required to share them with the Navy. By 1970, the Cowboys had upgraded to the F-8K. The F-8H arrived in November 1971, and the unit was accordingly redesignated a Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-112. They were also given the new tail code, MA, to replace the 5D. The Cowboys continued operating Crusaders until February 1976, when they were given F-4N Phantom IIís and redesignated a Fixed-Wing Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron (VMFA-112). VMF-112 Commanding Officers LtCol. Robert J. Irwin 1Jan63 to 30Apr64 LtCol. Ramon J.A. Gibson 2May64 to 31Mar65 Maj. Virgil L. Mash 1Apr65 to 31Oct65 LtCol. Robert G. Davis 1Nov65 to 31Mar67 Maj. Samuel J. Dolan 1Apr67 to 4Apr68 Maj. Austin M. Marts 5Apr68 to 30Jun69 LtCol. Jerrold D. Wilson 1Jul69 to 30Jun71 LtCol. John R. Parker 1Jul71 to 1Apr72 LtCol. Philip R. Oestricher 2Apr72 to 9Dec73 Ltcol John M. Kretsinger 10Dec73 to 21Dec75 LtCol. R. Frank Leftwich 21Dec75 to 21Dec77 **************** VMF-113 Whistling Devils, Marine Air Reserve Detachment, NAS Olathe, KS In 1964, the Whistling Devils were operating the F-6A Skyray, sharing them with Navy squadrons, VF-881, and 882, along with VMF-215. In August, the Navy units converted to the A-4B Skyhawks, leaving the Skyrays to the Marines. During the Spring of 1965, VMF-113 and 215 transitioned to the F-8A Crusader. The Whistling Devils operated the Crusader for six months before they were deactivated on October 22, 1965 and transferred to VMF-215. **************** Crusaders VMF & VMF(AW)-122, MAG -31, MCAS Beaufort, SC, MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan MAG-33 MCAS El Toro, CA The Candystripers of VMF-122 operated the North American FJ-3M Fury from MCAS Cherry Point, NC during 1957. The unit was moved to Beaufort, SC in September, and VMF-122 became the first USMC squadron to receive the F8U-1 Crusader in December. LtCol. William H. Rankin, the Commanding Officer, changed the unitís name to Crusaders, in honor of their new bird. The squadron pilots trained at NAS Moffett Field in California, before returning to South Carolina. LtCol. Rankin ejected from an F-8 over southern Virginia on July 26, 1959, while flying at 45,000 feet above a violent thunderstorm. He landed on the ground over forty minutes later near in northern North Carolina. The qualified aboard the USS Independence (CVA-62) with F-8Bís in 1962, becoming the first Marine Crusader unit to do so. The F-8E replaced the older day fighter, and the unit was redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-122 on October 1, 1962. During the Cuban Missile crisis, the Crusaders deployed to Key West, Florida and remained there until December. **************** Death Rattlers, VMF & VMF(AW)-323, MAG-33 The squadron deployed to NAS Atsugi, Japan to join MAG-11 in January of 1964. They made several brief deployments to Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippines before surrendering their aircraft to incoming VMF(AW)-312 in January 1965. The unit returned to El Toro, and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II. **************** Lancers VMF & VMF(AW)-212, MAG-13, 1stMarBrgde, & MAG-24, MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI During the first half of the year 1963, the Devil Cats of VMA-212 operated the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk. The squadron was reequipped with twenty F-8B Crusaders in July. With the new aircraft, came the redesignation, VMF-212. Ed Rutty, the Executive Officer, conceived the name "Lancers", in keeping with the medieval theme of the Crusader. David Lerps, and his wife, Mary, designed the unit crest, that is used to this day. Gordon Jackson, the Commanding Officer, trained the F-8 crews in daytime fighter tactics, and 1Lt. Michael G. Dickerson became the first Lancer to complete the training syllabus in August. . The unit was redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-212, on July 1, 1964, and LtCol. Charles H. Ludden relieved LtCol. Jackson nine days later. The squadron swapped their F-8Bís for F-8D Crusaders, which arrived from Atsugi, Japan. The Lancers CARQUALíd on any carrier that would let them aboard, and by Fall of Ď64, were slated to join the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) for the 1965 WestPac cruise. They replaced the navyís VF-161, an F-3 Demon squadron that was transitioning to F-4Bís. As it became clear that the upcoming cruise would probably involve combat in Vietnam, the Lancers were reequipped with the ground-attack capable, F-8E, which they began receiving in November. LtCol. Luddenís squadron manned-up their aircraft on January 27, 1965, and flew eastward to NAS Miramar to join Carrier Air Wing 16. They spent the next several months practicing ordnance delivery and air-to-air intercepts. The Oriskany set sail in April, and the Lancers moved into troubled waters. They arrived off the coast of South Vietnam on May 8th, and the carrier announced her arrival by launching an air strike. The Lancers pounded targets off Dixie Station for two days, before the air wing was moved into Yankee Station off the coast of hostile North Vietnam. For the airmen, the most noticeable difference between North and South Vietnam was the intensity of the anti-aircraft fire over the north. The F-8ís were modified in July to accept napalm, Mk-82, Mk-83, and Mk-84 bombs on their wing pylons. The Mk-84 two-thousand pound bomb was the Sunday Punch that the air wing needed to knock down the bridges in North Vietnam. Launching an F-8 with a pair of these behemoths under each wing was a problem, until Maj. Harry E. Sexton mandated that the Crusaders be launched with 80% of itís fuel and topped off in flight. CDR James B. Stockdale, the air wing commander, was shot down in an A-4 on September 9th, and taken into captivity. LtCol. Ludden became the acting commander until October 4th. Ludden was later wounded by small arms fire, when a round smashed his canopy, creased his eye, and lodged in his hip. He refused to be MedEvacíd, and continued to lead the Lancers. VMF(AW)-212 destroyed the Vu Chua railroad bridge on October 17, using the Mk- 84 bomb. Ten days later, the squadron incurred itís first operational loss when Capt. Ross C. Chaimson struck the ramp in WD-105, BuNo. 159198, during a night recovery. He ejected safely and was recovered in minutes. Capt. Harlan P. Chapman was not as fortunate. On November 5, he was attacking the Hai Duong railroad bridge in WD-106 BuNo 150665. His was the last plane attacking the target, when the F-8 was hit and thrown into a violent tumble toward the ground. Chapman dislocated a shoulder, but was able to eject from the stricken plane. He was captured and sent to a POW camp, where he was held until February 12, 1973. Ross Chaimsonís flight attacked the same railroad bridge on November 17, and his plane was also hit. The shot knocked out his electrical power, and he left the target area in full burner. His aircraft flamed out near the Bon Homme Richard aircraft carrier, and he ejected from WD-103, BuNo. 150675. Again, he was safely plucked from the shark-infested waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. By the end of November, the Oriskany was taken off the line, and sailed the Philippines for a brief rest period. The Lancersí F-8Eís were off loaded at Cubi Point, and the Lancers returned to Hawaii on December 10. VMF(AW)-212 had flown 1,588 sorties during 3,018 combat hours. The squadron received the coveted Battle E award, and LtCol. Ludden was named Marine Aviator of the Year. The Lancers were reequipped with F-8Dís and resumed a training status, earning the CNO Safety award for Fiscal year 1966. LtCol. Charles M. Wallace, Jr. assumed command on February 1, 1966. Capt. Gary R. Braun surpassed 1,000 accident-free hours in the F-8 on June 10, and was thrown into Kaneohe Bay by maintenance crews immediately after his flight. LtCol. Ira L. "Shine" Morgan, Jr. relieved LtCol. Wallace on March 31, 1967. The Lancers prepared to bid farewell to the Crusader in 1968, as they were scheduled to transition to the newest version of the Phantom, the F-4J. There were delays in the production of the F-4, and the Navy needed 212ís F-8Dís for itís WestPac units. The Lancers responded by reverting to older F-8Bís from west coast reserve units. They were redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine Fighter Squadron, VMF-212, on March 1. LtCol. Thomas F. Rochford would oversee the end of the Crusader days when he took command on April 1, 1968. Four lead-nosed F- 4Jís arrived from VMFA-334 on May 15, and the Lancers were out of the Gunfighter business. They were redesignated VMFA-212 on August 10. **************** VMF-215 Fighting Corsairs, Marine Air Reserve Detachment, NAS Olathe, KS The Fighting Corsairs operated the F-6A Skyray from Olathe, Kansas, along with VMF-113 in 1965. They accepted eighteen F-8Aís in April, and six months later, absorbed the aircraft and personnel from VMF-113, when that unit was deactivated. The Fighting Corsairs upgraded to F-8Kís in 1969, and were deactivated in 1971. **************** RED DEVILS, VMF & VMF(AW)-232, MAG-13 MCAS Kaneohe Bay, MAG-11 Danang RVN The Red Devils, of VMF-232, operated the North American FJ-4 Fury under MAG-13 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii until March 15, 1959, when they transtitioned to the F8U-1 Crusader. Later in the year, the unit was invited to Yuma, AZ to participate in gunnery training. Using borrowed F8U-2ís, they spent two weeks tearing up the ranges in the Chocolate Mountains. They won the Earle Young and Bauer Trophys for their efforts, before returning to Kaneohe Bay. The Red Devils upgraded to the F8U-1E in 1960, and in August, LtCol. Louis H. Steman, who had overseen the F8U conversion, was relieved by LtCol. Robert R. Peebles. LtCol. Peebles was relieved by LtCol. Douglas D. Petty, Jr., on December 9, 1961, and took the squadron aboard the USS Oriskany (CVA-34), on June 12, 1962, for a WestPac cruise. The squadron returned to Hawaii on December 11, 1962. LtCol. Jack R. Sloan oversaw the squadron from May 1, 1963 to May 8, 1964, when he handed the unit over to LtCol. Harrel K. Jobe. The squadron traded the F-8B for F-8Dís in March of 1965, and were redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-232 on the 1st. LtCol. Jobe was relieved on May 1, 1965 by LtCol. Gerald M. Keiswetter. The Red Devils remained at Kaneohe as MAG-13ís only fighter squadron while VMF(AW)-212 was deployed in Vietnam. In February 1966, the Red Devils began training for the ground attack capable F- 8E. On April 22, they flew their "Deltaís" to NAS Miramar, and picked up nine "Echoís" at MCAS El Toro, before flying them back to Kaneohe Bay. MAG-13 left for Vietnam in May, and the Red Devils were assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade. LtCol. Nicholas M. Trapnell, Jr., assumed command on August 1, and VMF(AW)-232 deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan at the end of the month, arriving on September 2nd. They were attached to MAG-11 and the 1st Marine Air Wing. The Red Devils deployed to Danang, RVN in increments, before the last section arrived in December. The Red Devils used the F-8 primarily for ground attack in the I and II Corps areas of South Vietnam. They made a few excursions into the areas just north of the DMZ as well. By the end of December 1966, VMF(AW)-232 had flown 571 sorties and dropped 418 tons of ordnance on targets. Four of their aircraft had been hit by small arms fire, but made it back to Danang safely. Maj. Edward F. Townley became the first Red Devil to be shot down on May 4, 1967, as he circled a suspected enemy position. He pointed the jet out to sea and ejected before he was picked up and returned to Danang. By this point, nineteen F-8ís had been damaged by small arms fire, but on May 19th, the first loss was incurred. Capt. Harold J. Hellbach reported that his jet had been hit and that he was heading out to sea. His F-8 was seen to pitch up violently before rolling over and diving into the ground, six miles from the target area. The losses continued on June 21, when Major Charles L. Cronkite experienced mechanical problems and ejected over water. He did not survive. Maj. Bruce A. Martin was hit on July 2, and he ejected safely. Not all of 232ís aircraft were destroyed in the air. The Viet Cong attacked Danang with rockets on July 15, and destroyed two Crusaders. In August, Maj. Marvin H. Sautter, who had assumed command of the squadron on 23 March, prepared the squadron for rotation to MCAS El Toro, California for F-4J transition. The Red Devils had flown 5785 sorties during 7,273 flight hours and dropped 6,271 tons of ordnance on targets. VMF(AW)-235 relieved the Red Devils, and Maj. Norbert F. Schnippel, Jr. relieved Maj. Sautter of command. **************** Death Angels, VMF-235 & VMF(AW)-235, MAG-31 MCAS Beaufort, SC, MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan, MAG-15 Iwakuni, Japan. The Death Angels operated the North American FJ-3 Fury from MCAS Cherry Point, NC during 1957. By November of that year, Maj. John J. "The Axe" Tooley brought the unit to MCAS Beaufort SC, and prepared the unit for transition to the F8U-1 Crusader. The Death Angels operated from Beaufort, and made periodic deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. LtCol. Jack C. Scott assumed command in March 1958, and was relieved by LtCol. Robert F. Conley in February 1959. They received the Commanding Generals Trophy for excellence in an aerial weapons competition in 1959. LtCol. Robert L. "Skinny" Lamar took command in August 1960, and was relieved by LtCol. Harry B. "The Horse" Hanson in July 1961. LtCol. Robert W. "Tubby" Taylor relieved LtCol. Hanson in November 1961. The squadron was reequipped with the F-8D in February of 1962, and redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-235. LtCol. Jesse V. "Davey" Booker assumed command in April, and continued training the unit with the new aircraft. The squadron was deployed to NAS Atsugi, Japan in January 1963, and reassigned to MAG -11. They deployed to Taiwan for six weeks beginning in March, and began several intra-theater deployments throughout the rest of 1963. They returned to MCAS Beaufort, SC in February 1964, where a batch of F-8Eís were waiting for them. LtCol. Edward Rogal assumed command from LtCol. Booker. LtCol. George A. "Gib" Gibson took the squadron in December and spent most of 1965 training the squadron for a combat deployment. The unit was sent to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in December of 1965, and relieved VMF(AW)-312 at Danang, RVN on February 1, 1966. The Death Angels maintained a high operational record, and in June, after LtCol. Donald Mickle relieved LtCol. Gibson of command, set an all-time record of 41 sorties during a 24-hour period. Capt. Orson Swindle was hit while attacking a target in North Vietnam on November 11. He ejected from F-8E BuNo 150858, and was captured when he hit the ground. He was released from captivity on March 4, 1973. The Death Angels were relieved in November by VMF(AW)-232, and moved to Iwakuni where it was assigned to MAG-15. LtCol. Ed Rogal, again, assumed command of the unit. He took the unit to Naha, in December, for air-to-ground work ups. The unit was, once again, assigned to MAG-11 at Danang in February of 1967. LtCol. Wallace Wessel assumed command in June, and was, in turn, relieved by LtCol. Lee E. Blanchard in October. LtCol. Carl Lundquist took the squadron in January 1968, and the following month, his pilots supported the siege at Khe Sahn. They spent three weeks providing Close Air Support for marines, which included using the big 2,000lb bombs that were dropped within 300 feet of friendly positions in an effort to collapse the tunnels that the NVA were using to attack the Americans. Maj. DJ Keily and Capt Gary Post were attacking enemy positions with napalm and strafing runs. Their F-8ís were repeatedly hit by small arms fire, and Capt. Postís jet began leaking fuel. After ejecting from BuNo 149225, Capt. Post was recovered. LtCol. Anthony L. Blair assumed command in April, and took the squadron out of Vietnam on May 11, 1968, after fifteen months of combat. They returned to MCAS Iwakuni, and traded their F-8Eís for older F-8Bís. They remained in Iwakuni until September, when the squadron was reduced to zero-strength, and the flag carried to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. They were assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade and redesignated Fixed-wing Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron (VMFA-235), and equipped with lead-nosed F-4J Phantom IIís under the command of LtCol. William A. Tyksinski. **************** Thunderbolts VMF-251, MAG-33 MCAS El Toro, CA , MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan, MAG- 32, MCAS Beaufort, SC The Thunderbolts operated the FJ-3 Fury from MCAS Miami, Florida in 1958. The unit was moved to MCAS El Toro, CA in April and transitioned to F8U-1 Crusaders. They deployed to NAS Atsugi, Japan aboard the USS Core in October of 1959. The T-Bolts traded the F8U-1ís for F8U-1Eís the following year, and spent six months at NAS Cubi Point, RP. They returned to Atsugi in June and rotated to MCAS Beaufort, SC in January 1961. Once established at Beaufort, the squadron operated both Dash One and Dash 1-E Crusaders. The squadron set sail aboard the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38) on February 7, 1962 and joined Carrier Air Group Ten. They toured the Mediterranean until August, when they returned to terra firma. The squadron periodically deployed to weapons meets at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Yuma, Arizona. The Thunderbolts transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II in October 1964, and were redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron, VMFA-251. **************** Checkerboards, VMF & VMF(AW)-312, MAG-32 MCAS Beaufort, SC, MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan, MAG-33 MCAS El Toro, CA The Checkerboards operated the North American FJ-3M Fury from MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina during 1959. They transitioned to the F8U-1 in June of that year. They deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on November 13, and remained there for a month. They returned to "Gitmo" in February 1960 and came back home on March 11. The squadron conducted CARQuals aboard the USS Saratoga from NAS Mayport, Florida in June. The unit deployed to NAS Atsugi, Japan in November, and relieved VMF-251, flying F8U-1Eís. They went aboard the USS Coral Sea (CVA- 43) in March 1961 to conduct carrier qualifications. They deployed to the Philippines on March 23rd, and conducted more carrier qualifications aboard the USS Midway (CVA-41). They remained aboard Midway for three weeks, cruising off the coast of Vietnam. They returned to the Coral Sea on April 29 and remained with them until May 10, 1961. They deployed to Atsugi at the end of the month, and the unit stood down while the aircraft went through rework. They went back to the Philippines on September 30, and conducted more carrier qualifications aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). They returned to Atsugi on November 1, and were relieved by VMF-451 in January of 1962. They were reassigned to MAG-33 at MCAS El Toro, California. They upgraded to the F-8E and were redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-312 on August 1, 1963. The Checkerboard returned to Atsugi, Japan in February 1965, and joined MAG-11. The following June, they transferred to MAG-13 at Iwakuni. They remained at Iwakuni throughout 1965, often replacing their aircraft with VMF(AW)-212ís war- weary jets aboard the USS Oriskany. The Checkerboards got into the action on December 19th, when they deployed to Danang, RVN. They flew a total of 718 combat missions before being deactivated on January 31, 1966. The squadron was reactivated the next day at Beaufort, SC as VMFA-312, and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II. Commanding Officers: Maj. Roy C. Gray, Jr. 2Jun59 to 31Jul59 LtCol. Robert L. Lamar 1Aug59 to 24Jun60 Maj. Richard S. Rash 25Jun60 to 1Feb62 LtCol. Lawrence McGlade 2Feb62 to 10Jul62 LtCol. Dean Wilker 11Jul62 to 26Jul63 LtCol. Robert C. Lehnert 27Jul63 to 31Jan64 LtCol. Richard Newport 1Feb64 to 1Feb66 **************** Black Barons, VMF-321 Marine Air Reserve Detachment, NAS Andrews, Washington, DC The Black Barons operated the AF-1E Fury from Andrew AFB, until January 1965, when they transitioned to the F-8B Crusader. They logged their 1,000th F-8 hour on July 14. The following month, they took their aircraft to MCAS Beaufort and remained there for two weeks, training for air-to-air refueling and air-to-air gunnery with their F-8ís and T-33ís. They deployed to NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on November 17, using VMGR-252 from Cherry Point to refuel them in the air. They deployed from Andrews AFB to NAS Miramar on April 22, 1967 in an incredible six hour, non-stop flight. They returned to "Rosie Roads" in August for a variety of training work-ups. Tragedy struck the Black Barons during this deployment, when Maj. John A. Wilson was killed in a crash. The unit was awarded the Pete Ross Safety Award in August of 1969, and was reassigned to MAG-41, of the 4th Marine Air Wing. Two of VMF-321ís aircraft collided on March 9, 1970, and Maj. Everard E. Hatch was killed. The unit upgraded from F-8B/Lís to F-8K Crusaders in November of 1970, and received 19 of the new aircraft. The Black Barons were reassigned to MAG-42 in 1973. Capt. David Gould ejected from his F-8K, BuNo 145560, on April 19, when his engine seized. He reached the ground safely, and his aircraft crashed in a farmerís field. The unit deployed to Yuma, Arizona in August, and conducted their last F-8 training deployment. The Black Barons finally transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II on December 9, 1973, when Capt. Jonathan D. Foster flew the first example to Andrews. With the arrival of the new jet, the unit was redesignated a Fixed-wing Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron, VMFA-321. **************** Death Rattlers, VMF and VMF(AW)-323, MAG-33 MCAS El Toro, California The Death Rattlers operated the North American FJ-4 Fury from MCAS El Toro, California until 1959, when they accepted the Vought F8U-1 Crusader. In September, they took their new mounts to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, and spent two weeks conducting advanced weapons missions and instrument flying. They took their Crusaders aboard the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) on February 21, 1960 for carrier qualifications. The Death Rattlers joined CVG-14 aboard the USS Lexington (CVA-16) for a WestPac cruise in November of 1961. They returned to El Toro in May of the following year, before upgrading to the F8U-2NE. As a result, they were redesignated a Fixed-Wing Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron, VMF(AW)-323 on July 19. The Death Rattlers put the new Crusaders to good use in January 1963 by participating in a large scale exercise at MCAS Yuma, AZ. Two more exercises were conducted in February at Camp Pendelton. On June 18, the squadron participated in the nearly-disastrous, Operation: Green Wave, a WestPac deployment. With the intention of flying their Crusaders across the Pacific to NAS Atsugi, Japan, the squadron launched its aircraft in three groups of six aircraft, with the first two elements led by LtCol. Claude Barnhill and Maj. Donald Tooker. Two of Barnhillís pilots had to turn back, while the remaining aircraft flew to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI. Maj. Tookerís aircraft caught fire during an aerial refueling cycle and he was forced to eject moments before the aircraft exploded. The rest of the flight proceeded to Kaneohe while Maj. Tooker was fished out of the ocean by the USS Koiner (DDE-331). The third element proceeded west the following day, and 1Lt. Cliff Judkins, III experienced the same problem as Maj. Tooker during his refueling cycle. Judkins was unable to eject due to a seat failure, so he was forced to bail out WWII- style. His parachute, however, failed to open, and Judkins fell 10,000 feet into the ocean. Incredibly, he survived, with moderate injuries to his face, pelvis, and ankles. By June 22, the Death Rattlers decided that theyíd had enough of Operation: Green Wave and the aircraft were moved to Atsugi by surface ship. VMF(AW)-323 remained in Atsugi until June of 1964, when the unit was reduced to zero strength and moved to MCAS Cherry Point for upgrade to the McDonnell-Douglas F-4B Phantom II. Commanding Officers: LtCol. Dwain L. Engel Sept to Dec 1959 LtCol. Frank E. Wilson Dec 1959 to June 1960 LtCol. Robert E. Johnson June 1960 to June 1961 LtCol. Frederic T. Watts, Jr. June 1961-July 1962 LtCol. Claude O. Barnhill, Jr. July 1962 to May 1964 Maj. Donald K. Tooker May 1964 to June 1964 **************** Shamrocks, VMF and VMF(AW)-333, MAG-32, MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina The Fighting Shamrocks of VMF-333 operated the North American FJ-3 and FJ-3M Fury at MCAS Beaufort before becoming the first Marine unit to transition to the Vought F8U-2 on November 6, 1959. The "Crusader Two" was an improvement over the F8U-1 and F8U-1E that were currently in use by other Navy and Marine squadrons. The squadron conducted carrier qualifications aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) in 1961. The unit participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 by deploying to NAS Boca Chica with VMF(AW)-451. They returned to Beaufort in December. Trip Trey became the first USMC F-8 unit to fly across the Atlantic in 1965, when they participated in a joint US-Norwegian exercise named, Operation: Bar Drink. The unit transitioned to the F-8E in February 1966, and were redesignated VMF(AW)-333. Trip Trey practiced mud-moving at MCAS Yuma in 1967, and traded their Vought gunfighters for the F-4J Phantom II in June 1968. **************** Falcons, VMF-334, MAG-33 MCAS El Toro, California The Falcons became the West Coastís first USMC F-8 unit in January of 1958 when they traded their North American FJ Furys for the Vought F8U-1. After sporting several tail codes in preceding years (MX to WV), the unit finally settled on Whiskey Uniform. They upgraded to the F8U-2 in 1961 and continued to fly the Crusader until June 1967, when they became the first USMC F-4J unit. **************** VMF-351, Marine Air Reserve Detachment, NAS Atlanta, Georgia VMA-351 traded their North American AF-1E Furys for the Vought F-8A in February 1965, thus becoming a Marine Fighter Squadron. Later, the unit received F-8Lís, remanufactured F-8Bís. By 1970, VMF-351 was operating the upgraded F-8K (formerly F-8C and F8U-2). The unit carried three tail codes on their Crusaders, 7B, 5B, and finally MC. Marine Fighter Squadron 351 was redesignated VMFA-351 in 1975, and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II. **************** VMF and VMF(AW)-451, Warlords, MAG-33, MCAS El Toro, California, MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan, MAG-32, MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina The Warlords operated the North American FJ-4 Fury from MCAS El Toro until November 1959, when the unit upgraded to the Vought F8U-2. They were redesignated VMF(AW)-451 on July 1, 1961 after transitioning to the F8U-2N all- weather variant. The Warlords became the first USMC single-seat aircraft unit to fly the entire distance to Japan in January 1962. Using new KC-130F Hercules refueling planes, the Warlords arrived in Atsugi, Japan in seven days, rather than the normal 45. The unit moved to MCAS Beaufort in February 1963 and joined MAG-32. The unit deployed to Roosevelt Roads, PR in April of 1965 and participated in the Dominican Republic Intervention. Using a combination of AiM-9 and Zuni rockets, as well as internally mounted 20mm cannons, the Warlords conducted armed road recces. The squadron joined CVW-8 in August of 1965 aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) for a Med cruise. They returned to Beaufort in April 1966 and continued to fly the F-8D until February 1968, when they transitioned to the F-4J Phantom II. **************** VMF-511, Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment, NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania In 1965, VMF-511 traded their combination of North American FJ-4 and FJ-4B Furys for the Vought F-8B Crusader. In 1968, they switched over to F-8Aís, before upgrading to F-8Lís in 1970. A year later, they transitioned to F-8Kís. VMF-511 carried three tail codes on itís aircraft, 5W, 7W, and finally MK. The unit was deactivated in 1973.
From Tom Rochford (CrusaderF8@aol.com) RE: Major LeRoy H. "Andy" Anderson The Retired Officers Magazine listed "Andy" in the TAPS section. He had retired in Arkansas. Andy was the Aircraft Maintenance Officer for VMF(AW)-235 from Jan 62-Feb 64 during the time the Squadron switched over to the F8-2N (F8D). VMF(AW)235 was the east coast contingency Squadron flying out of MCAS Beaufort, S.C. The Squadron had day quals on the Forestal, nite quals on the FDR and "5 minute hot pad" and CAPs for the F-8 photos during the Cuban missile crisis. Over in the Far East, quals on the Constellation and Coral Sea. The Coral Sea skipper joked, said the squadron was not qualified because we had NO bolters or waveoffs. Much of our success was due to the superb attention Andy and his brown shirts gave the pilot and the aircraft. During carrier ops, you would see Andy down in the Hanger deck and when taxiing up to the Cat he would be there with a thumbs up. Just prior to getting on the Cat, he would have his crews double check the aircraft. This gave the pilots confidence and we seldom had system problems or hook skips. I can't remember a time that I taxied to the Cat that ANDY or one of his men did not give me a "thumbs up". The "Death Angels" or "Red Noses" also operated out of Atsugi, Naha, Ping Tung and Cubi Point before returning to CONUS. The Squadron made all its commitments without aircraft problems. That was largely due to Major LeRoy "Andy" Anderson. He kept us flying. I know....I was the Ops Officer.
From J. W. Street, MGySgt USMC, Aircraft Maintenance Chief, VMAQ-2 (firstname.lastname@example.org) My first permanent duty station out of school in June 1973 was the Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment at NAS Atlanta (Marietta). The Detachment was then flying the F-8K Crusader (also UH-1e's on the rotor wing side). By then the Reserve Training Detachments were the only Marine units still flying the Crusader; active duty units had moved on to Phantoms...... The F-8 was a real pleasure to work on from a Flight Line Mech's standpoint (not necessarily so for those doing deeper maintenance, i.e engine change that required the tail to come off)..... The Crusader was everything people say about it and more. Our favorite deployments were to Tyndall AFB, Panama City, FL, for ACM training against Air Force units (F-106s at the time). We rarely lost an engagement. I was present at the Air Force Base in Rome, NY in 1974 when we had an aircraft shear a left MLG strut on the runway just prior to brake release. Broke off at the upper end near attach point at gear well aft bulkhead. Subsequently the entire (remaining) fleet of F-8's had to have their main struts x-rayed. We were only able to get the wounded aircraft off the runway (a SAC B-52 facility) by jacking up an engine removal trailer (4000 trailer) under the left outboard wing and then slowly towing the whole thing to a hangar. Back in the early 70's the farthest east that Coors beer could be purchased was Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Consequently Tinker was a favorite RON point for cross-countries. The Crusader could haul an amazing quantity of beer stuffed in the ammo compartment and around the guns; in the neighborhood of 20 cases as I recall. Not the most important mission the F-8 ever flew, but always great for morale.
From Dick Bellinger (Cpl/USMC 1965/69; email@example.com) I served in the Marines as a mechanic on those babies in 1965-67, at Da Nang, RVN, and it was a blast looking at (and relocating) your pictures...just wish there were some WT 's on the tail.. VMF(AW)232 is still active, in Japan (I believe) and using F-18's today. The pleasure has been mine to be a part of the history ofsuch a unique aircraft. I have many articles written in Armed Forces Newsletter about the Mig kills from the Bon Homme Richard, which I cherish, and several nice photos of F-8's being hit by incoming rockets at Da Nang.
From Cliff J. Judkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) I flew the Crusader from 1960-1965. Squadrons were VMF 451 & 323. VMF 323 was attached to CAG 14 during 1961 and 1962. We were deployed aboard Lexington (CVA-16) in 1961 and 1962. LEX's last deployment as a ship of the line. I was a test pilot for NAS Atsugi and NIPPI in 1964-5. I am, to the best of my knowledge, the only pilot to complete a manual bailout from a crusader. The chute streamed but didn't open...but that's another story. Spent 30 years as a pilot for Delta Air Lines and am now retired. I feel the Marines are under-represented at the Crusader balls. I think this is because they don't even know these balls take place.... I vote for Pensacola for the '98 Ball.
From Jim Cunningham (email@example.com) Just wanted to share a small event. I found out that, to my knowledge, the last Marine fighter pilot with F-8 time was retired on Friday the 10th, Major General 'Dax' Williams USMC. He showed up in Danang in 67 as a young captain in VMF(AW) 235. He had, as I remember, about 300 hours in type and even some carrier landings. I know he is the last active duty person to fly my wing. Are there any Navy types still on active duty with F8 time? We're all diminshed just a little--
Return to Main Page
Marine F-8 pilots, maintainers, etc.--- I could use help wi/images, stories, mission types, etc.
Click here to E-mail Page Watch Officer