Photo courtesy Col. John Telles, Jr.


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 [] 


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,


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,


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 (

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 (

	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;

	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 (

	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 (

        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--

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