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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212
VMFA-212 Unit insignia
Courtesy of www.military-graphics.com
Active 1 March 1942 – 11 March 2008
Country United States
Branch USMC
Part of Inactive
Nickname(s) "Lancers"
Hell Hounds (WWII)
The Musketeers (WWII)
Devil Cats (Korea)
Motto(s) "Train to Fight, Fight to Win!"
Tail Code WD
Engagements World War II
* Battle of Guadalcanal
* Philippines campaign (1944–45)
* Battle of Okinawa
Korean War
* Battle of Chosin Reservoir
* Attack on the Sui-ho Dam
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Noble Eagle
Operation Enduring Freedom
LtCol Harold "Indian Joe" Bauer
Aircraft flown
Attack AD-1 Skyraider
Fighter Grumman F4F Wildcat
Vought F4U-4 Corsair
McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II
McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 (VMFA-212) was a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. Most recently known as the "Lancers", the squadron was last based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan and fell under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW). Due to a re-organization within Marine aviation, the squadron was deactivated in 2008. It is scheduled to be reactivated as an MV-22B squadron in 2019 under MAG 26 at MCAS New River, NC.[1]

Past Mission as VMFA[edit | edit source]

Support the Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander by destroying surface targets and enemy aircraft, day or night under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint or combined operations.

History[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

VMF-212 logo during World War II

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 was activated as Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212), the "Hell Hounds", at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii on 1 March 1942. Deploying in May to the South Pacific in their Grumman F4F Wildcats, the squadron was stationed at Tontouta on the island of New Caledonia, and later moved up to the Quoin Hill Airfield on the island of Efate. As preparations for the invasion of Guadalcanal increased, the squadron operated a detachment at Turtle Bay Airfield on Espiritu Santo until the arrival of VMO-251 ensured that the island was provided with adequate aerial defense. During the early part of the Guadalcanal campaign, VMF-212 sent detachments to operate with Cactus Air Force squadrons deployed to Henderson Field until the entire squadron was committed to the battle in mid-October. The squadron acquired an enviable record by destroying 64½ enemy planes including that of Toshio Ohta, a Japanese ace. Of this number, LtCol Harold "Indian Joe" Bauer, the squadron's first Commanding Officer, was credited with 11 kills and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor.

The squadron returned to the United States in November 1942 and remained on the West Coast until June 1943 when they sailed for Midway Atoll. The squadron remained on Midway for two months and then returned to Espiritu Santo. By August 1943, VMF-212 was back in the Solomon Islands where they participated in the campaigns to retake Vella Lavella and Bougainville. From 20 October through 27 November 1943 the squadron was based out of Barakoma Airfield and supported operations in the Treasury Islands, Choiseul and Bougainville. By December 1943 they moved to Torokina Airfield and remained there until they moved again on 20 January 1944 this time to Piva Airfield. Another move came on 20 March when they transited to Green Island and later back to Vella Lavella. VMF-212 remained in the vicinity of the Solomons and Bismarck Islands for the remainder of 1944 running fighter sweeps against the Japanese garrison on Rabaul and providing close air support for ground forces on Bougainville. On 8 January 1945, VMF-212 landed on Samar and provided close air support for United States Army troops during the campaign to retake the Philippines. During this time they flew over Mindoro, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It was also during this time that the squadron was a part of one of the worst aviation accidents of the war. At 09:40 on 24 January 1945, while taking off, 1Lt Karl Oerth of VMF-222 hit a lump in the runway, blew a tire and his Corsair careened wildly into his own squadron's revetment area, which was shared with VMF-212. It completely wiped out the tents housing the intelligence, oxygen, parachutes and materiel departments. Many men attempted to rescue the pilot but while they were making this brave effort the plane exploded and set off all its .50 cal ammunition. 14 men were killed and over 50 wounded during this incident.[2] In June 1945 the squadron arrived at Okinawa on the USS Hillsborough County (LST-827) and conducted operations from there until the end of the war.[3] During the duration of World War II, VMF-212 was credited with shooting down 132½ enemy aircraft[4]

Korean War[edit | edit source]

VMF-212 F4U-4s on USS Rendova in 1951

Squadron logo during the Korean War

VMF-212, with no nickname at the time, was one of the first squadrons sent to Far East at the outbreak of the war. They remained in Japan until Marines were able to capture Kimpo Airfield after the Battle of Inchon. The squadron finally touched down in Korea on 18 September 1950 and were flying their first Corsair F4U-5 strikes by 20 September. The squadron was later moved to Wonson,North Korea late October 1951 than ontoYonpo Airfield in North Korea as the United Nations' forces continued their advance in the early winter of 1950. The squadron adopted the name "Devil Cats" and a new patch was designed. After the Chinese counterattack in late November 1950, VMF-212 aircraft flew almost continuous close air support missions supporting the 1st Marine Division as they fought their way out of encirclement during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. After the fighting at Chosin, the squadron was ordered to operate from the USS Bataan (CVL-29)in December 1950 where they remained until 5 March 1951.

VMF-212 moved to being land based based at K3 Pohang, South Korea. The squadron left Korea in the Spring of 1951 and returned to Cherry Point NC. Those personnel who had extended enlistments transferred to VMF 214 at another Korean base. VMA-212's F4U Corsairs were replaced by upgraded AU-1 Corsairs in 1952. The AU-1 Corsair had armor plate around the cockpit and the oil coolers that were moved up to behind the engine. The squadron dropped more ordnance during the Korean War than any other Marine Corps squadron[citation needed]. The AU-1 Corsair had an additional center bomb rack which carried a 2000 lb. bomb until the rough Marsden Matting, which was laid over the old pock-marked Japanese landing strip at K-6, caused the center bomb rack to break off. The AU-1 Corsair could carry a 2000 lb bomb on its center rack, two 1000 lb. bombs on the wing root bomb racks and 100 or 260 lb. bombs on its wing racks. It struggled up to enemy territory at approximately 140 knots. After releasing its bombs, the AU-l again became a fast fighter in close support of the front lines and a fighter capable of up to 600 knots in a dive. Colonel Robert Galer, a Marine Corps Ace from World War II, was the Commanding Officer of MAG-12 in 1952, when he was shot down behind enemy lines and protected by VMF-212 pilots until rescued by a Marine Corps helicopter.

VMF-212 lost ten pilots in Korea.

The Vietnam War & the 1980s[edit | edit source]

VMF(AW)-212 F-8E in 1965

An F-4 Phantom II from VMFA-212 preparing to take-off at MCAS Kanehoe Bay in 1983.

In April 1965, the squadron, now known as the "Lancers" sailed aboard the USS Oriskany becoming the first Marine jet squadron to be deployed aboard an aircraft carrier in combat. As part of Carrier Air Group 16 (CVW-16) they arrived off the coast of Vietnam and began operating from Yankee Station. From 10 May – 6 December 1965 the Lancers flew missions against targets in North and South Vietnam. During this tour they conducted more than 12,000 combat sorties and delivered nearly 10,000 tons of ordnance. Of note, during a mission on 9 September 1965 they became the first squadron to deliver 2,000-pound MK-84 bombs from an F-8 Crusader that had launched from an aircraft carrier. Also on that day the Commander, Air Group (CAG) of CVW-16 Commander James Stockdale's A-4E Skyhawk was shot down over North Vietnam[5] making the commanding officer of VMF(AW)-212 the acting CAG until a replacement arrived.[6] This made 212's Commanding Officer LtCol Chuck Ludden the first Marine Officer to command a carrier airwing. In December 1965 the squadron returned to Hawaii having flown 3,018 combat hours and 1,588 sorties during their time off the coast of Vietnam.[7]

McDonnell F-4J Phantom II of VMFA-212 in 1975 wearing the units Lancers symbol on its fin

In April 1972, the squadron deployed from Hawaii to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam in an effort to blunt the massive North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam. VMFA-212 earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its effort in Vietnam.

From 1974 until 1987, VMFA-212 deployed numerous times to Japan and the West Coast earning the CNO Aviation Safety Award, the Robert M. Hanson Award, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation. During October 1988, VMFA-212 completed its seventh and final rotation in the UDP as an F-4 Phantom squadron. With the last F-4 sorties flown in August 1988, over 23,000 accident-free hours had been accumulated. The F/A-18C Hornet was received at this time.

The Gulf War & the 1990s[edit | edit source]

F/A-18 Hornet over the South China Sea

In December 1990, the squadron deployed to Bahrain in support of Operation Desert Shield. From there, they flew air interdiction and close air support missions in support of coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm after 17 January 1991. On 13 August 1996 the Lancers took off for the final time from NAS Miramar en route to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. After a successful six-month cycle the Lancers became a permanent resident of MCAS Iwakuni.

The Global War on Terror[edit | edit source]

The Lancers were the second Marine Corps squadron to deploy after the September 11 attacks, following their aerial refueler aircraft from VMGR-152, the Sumos. The squadron left MCAS Iwakuni on 12 September and after being refueled over Iwo Jima, began flying Combat Air Patrols over Guam in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

In the spring of 2002 the squadron deployed to Kuwait. For the first time single seat C models and 2-seat Ds from VMFA (AW)-332 The Moonlighters were combined into one unit. The Moon-Lancers flew missions into Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The OEF missions were, on average, 10 hours in duration and mostly at night.

Due to a re-organization within Marine aviation, the squadron was deactivated in 2008 in order to facilitate the Corps' transition to the F-35.

Squadron aces[edit | edit source]

The following members of VMF-212 were credited with shooting down at least five Japanese aircraft and earned the right to be called an Ace. The numbers after their name represents the number of enemy aircraft they were credited with shooting down.

LtCol Hank Bauer was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with VMF-212 in World War II

  • Harold W. Bauer - 11.0
  • William A. Carlton - 5.0
  • Jack E. Conger - 10.0
  • Phillip Cunliffe DeLong - 11.2
  • Frank C. Drury - 6.0
  • Hugh Elwood - 5.2
  • Loren D. Everton - 12.0
  • Henry B. Hamilton - 7.0
  • John McManus - 6.0
  • Donald C. Owen - 5.0
  • Frederick R. Payne - 7.5
  • Francis E. Pierce Jr. - 6.0
  • George H. Poske - 5.0
  • Robert F. Stout - 6.0.[8]

MIA information[edit | edit source]

In May 2008, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command found the wreckage of an F4U Corsair (BuNo 55908) and the remains of 1stLt Allan S. Harrison III in the vicinity of Warangoi, Papua New Guinea.[9] 1stLt Harrison was shot down by a Japanese aircraft on 11 February 1944 while taking part in a raid on the Japanese garrison at Rabaul.[10]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. 2015 Marine Aviation Plan
  2. "JOHN GALLE'S 212 HISTORY PAGE". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20091028112551/http://geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/5428/galle212.html. Retrieved 16 December 2007. 
  3. Sherrod History, p. 460-461.
  4. Sherrod History, p. 430.
  5. "POW S". Project Get Out and Walk. http://www.ejection-history.org.uk/project/POW/pow_s.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  6. White-Hoffman, Nancy Lee (May 2008). "VMF(AW)-212 - First Crusader Squadron to Deliver 2,000 Pound Bombs in Combat". pp. 52–53. 
  7. Ginter, p. 13
  8. "List of WW2 Marine Aces". www.Acepilots.com. http://www.acepilots.com/usmc_aces_list.html. 
  9. Bender, Bryan; Baron, Kevin. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". U.S. searches for missing World War II pilots. International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/28/asia/papua.php. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  10. "USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List February 1944". Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research. http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/USN/LLFeb44.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  • Crowder, Michael J. (2000). United States Marine Corps Aviation Squadron Lineage, Insignia & History - Volume One - The Fighter Squadrons. Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56311-926-9.
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939–1945.. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31906-5. 
  • Ginter, Steve (1989). Naval Fighters Number Eighteen - Part Three - Vought's F-8 Crusader - Marine Fighter Squadrons. ISBN 0-942612-18-3. 
  • Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. 

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