Training and Rebuilding

January 15th, 2015
Training and Rebuilding

Work progresses on Chapter 4 of a Squadron Born in War. The squadron has returned to the states from its first combat tour (June 2, 1943). Its temporary new home is MCAS Mojave. A core group of veterans (no more than 40) are kept to rebuild the squadron and prepare it to receive its new fighter, the F4U Corsair. It won't receive them until September 1943. Until then new pilots coming into the squadron train on Wildcats. Accidents are common, four pilots would be killed and many more injured. Enlisted personnel are sent to schools to learn the Corsair inside and out. An eyewitness statement to one of the accidents is attached.

VMO-251 Returns to the US

December 27th, 2014
VMO-251 Returns to the US

Chapter 3 of VMFA-251's WW2 history is complete. This was a tough chapter to write as key official squadron documents were missing. When documents were available -- the entry "routine combat conditions" was the norm. In celebration of the completion of the chapter, pictured is the USS Kitty Hawk and a page from her war diary indicating when 251 personnel boarded her for the trip back to the US on 17 May 1943. The ship docked in San Francisco on June 2, 1943 after they were diverted from San Diego.

I will resume writing after the holidays -- conversion to Corsairs and the squadron's second tour in the Pacific will be the subjects of the next chapters.

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Creator of Lucifer's Messengers patch identified

October 14th, 2014
Creator of Lucifer's Messengers patch identified

Another mystery solved! The Lucifer's Messengers patch was designed by VMF-251 pilot 2Lt. Danny W. Johnson, who was a Disney illustrator in civilian life. Above is the original done by Johnson as photographed by fellow 251 pilot Hugh "Yogi" Irwin. Irwin has been most helpful in detailing life on Bougainville and the Philippines.

12 Christmas presents!

September 27th, 2014
12 Christmas presents!

The AP photo above ran in papers across the US. The pilot second from the left is Lt. Kenneth Kirk of VMO-251. The rest were with VMF-121. The incident mentioned in the caption occurred on Dec. 24, 1942 over Munda on New Georgia.

Contents for a Squadron Born in War

September 22nd, 2014

Ladies and Gents:

Here is the final Table of Contents for "A Squadron Born in War", as well as the current list of appendices. I had hoped to include a list of squadron aircraft losses but this has proven impossible to compile with any accuracy -- one list I had showed 56 aircraft losses, but a source for aircraft accident reports lists 74! Where I could indeed verify the losses, they are covered in the narrative. The book will also contain several maps and tables, as well as 40 photos.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 -- The Beginning: Activation and Hollywood
Chapter 2 -- New Caledonia
Chapter 3 -- Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal
Chapter 4 -- Return to the States and Rebuilding the Squadron
Chapter 5 -- Return to War: Espiritu Santo, Green Island and Bougainville
Chapter 6 -- The Philippines and Decommissioning
Chapter 7 -- Assessment and Recognition

Appendices:

Appendix 1 -- Commanding Officers
Appendix 2 -- Command Assignments
Appendix 3 -- Casualties (KIA, WIA, AD and MIA)
Appendix 4 -- Roster of Personnel 1942
Appendix 5 -- Roster of Personnel 1945
Appendix 6 -- Japanese planes shot down by squadron personnel
Appendix 7 -- Aircraft markings and squadron insignia
Appendix 8 -- Squadron awards