Marine Fighting Squadron  422


"Flying Buccaneers"



1. January 1943 VMF-422 established at MCAS Santa Barbara CA
30. April 1945 VMF-422 disestablished MCAS Cherry Point NC




1943 - 1943
FM-1, SNJ-



1943 - 19??
VMF-422  Deployments 
- - - - -
9. January 1944 - 24. January 1944 CVE-68 USS Kalinin Bay - F4U-1 -
VMF-422  Commanding Officers 
Capt J. K. Gill 1. Jan. 1943 1. Apr. 1943
Capt. E. C. Fry 1. Apr. 1943 17. Jul. 1944
Maj. John S. MacLaughlin, Jr. (KIA) 17. Jul. 1944 2. Feb. 1944
Maj. Elmer A Wren 2. Feb. 1944 1. Jan. 1945
Maj. E. S. Drew 1. Jan. 1945 30. Apr. 1945


Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF-422) was commissioned on 1. January 1943, at Naval Air Station San Diego. On 27. January VMF-422 moved to MCAS Santa Barbara under the command of Major John S. MacLaughlin, Jr. to begin training together as a squadron. For the most part the pilots flew North American SNJ- trainers or six FM-1 Wildcats until late August when they were transported to NAS North Island, San Diego to take delivery of twenty-four new Vought F4U-1D Corsairs. They participated in gunnery and bombing training at the NAWS China Lake in the Mojave Desert.

The squadron was declared operational on 24. September 1943, and ordered to NS San Diego, where the lead echelon of twenty-four pilots and planes would be loaded aboard the new carrier CV-17 USS Bunker Hill for transport to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 3. October 1943.

After arrival, the squadron was initially based out of MCAS Ewa on Oahu, however the squadron's lead echelon, was sent by transport to Midway Atoll for advanced air patrol training with MAG-22. Upon returning to Oahu on 15. December 1943, the squadron was issued twenty-four new F4U-1D Corsairs.

They received orders to board the escort carrier USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) just after the New Year. Their destination was Hawkins Field on the island of Betio in Tarawa Atoll in the recently captured Gilbert Islands. Arriving on the early morning of 24. January 1944, VMF-422 catapulted off the ship to fly to Hawkins Field. Major MacLaughlin was met by the chief of staff of the Fourth Marine Base Defense Air Wing Colonel Lawrence Burke, who informed him that VMF-422 was to fly to the island of Funafuti, 820 miles to the southeast to await their role in Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands, scheduled for 3. February 1944.

On the morning of 25 January 1944, 23 Corsairs left for Nanomea, nealy 500 miles distant. For unknown reasons Maj. MacLaughlin did not request a lead navigation aircarft and many have missed d a weather briefing. In any event, en route weather proved worse than the CO had expected, and the flight turned into a shambles. About 15 minutes out of Nanomea weather forced MacLaughlin down to 200ft, whereupon he began a fruitless search for his destination, eventually disappearing. Several pilots went off on their own or lost contact with the formation, and finally Capt Cloyd Jeans, a VMF-223 “Cactus” veteran, directed a formation ditching. Fifteen planes went in the water and most pilots were saved after two days afloat. Only one pilot actually made it to Nanomea. In all, six pilots died and twenty-two planes were lost. It was the worst non-combat loss of a Marine squadron in the war.

VMF-422 was reconstituted after the disaster under the command of Major Elmer Wrenn. The remnants of the squadron were sent to Engebi in Eniwetok Atoll on 19. February 1944. The surviving pilots and new replacements arrived in March and a short period of additional training took place over the next few weeks. On 27. May 1944 a portion of the squadron was sent to Roi-Namur to conduct interdiction missions against Japanese bases and shipping in the Marshall Islands. The VMF-422 echelon remained on Roi-Namur until 16.October 1944 when the squadron was reunited back on Engebi to begin missions against Ponape.

On 26.April 1945, VMF-422 departed the Central Pacific bound for Okinawa. The ground crew arrived at Ie Shima on 7. May 1945 with the aircraft in trace by an additional couple of weeks. During its first combat flights over Okinawa on 25. May 1945, the squadron was credited with shooting down five Japanese aircraft. On 29. June 1945 Capt DeBlanc led a large formation of Corsairs from multiple squadrons against targets on Ishigaki Island. En route to the target four of the formation's Corsairs exploded in the sky because bomb safety wires had worked loose, thus arming the bombs in flight. The squadron lost ten aircraft during the Battle of Okinawa. During the entirety of the Okinawa Campaign the squadron was credited with 15 Japanese planes shot down.

After the war, VMF-422 returned to the United States in November 1945 and was assigned to MAG-22 at MCAS El Toro. At some point the squadron was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina where it was decommissioned on 30. April 1947.



last update 7. March 2022

written  19. April 2009


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