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World War II

Marine Fighter Squadron 122 (VMF-122) was commissioned on March 1, 1942 at Camp Kearney in San Diego, California. Outfitted with the F4F Wildcat, the squadron, then known as the "Candystripers", saw their first combat tour in October 1942. During this tour they were part of the Cactus Air Force at Henderson Field and also operated Espiritu Santo. In April of 1943, while under the command of Major Pappy Boyington, the squadron transitioned to the F4U Corsairand accounted for 35 1/2 kills. The squadron's first combat tour ended in August of 1943 when they returned Miramar, California.

For it's second tour, VMF-122 embarked upon the USS Hollandia in July of 1944. From there they operated from an airstrip on Peleliu conducting combat operation until the end of the war in August of 1945. They returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (MCAS Cherry Point) in February of 1946 and were deactivated between July and October of that year.


The squadron was reactivated in November of 1947 as the first Marine squadron to employ jet-propelled aircraft flying the FH Phantom. Suring this time the squadron also field the first and only Marine aerial demonstration team known as the "Flying Leathernecks. They toured the country for two years before being disbanded with the transition to the F2H Banshee. In 1952, they again transitioned to the F9F Panther and after a Mediterranean cruise in 1953 they were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24 at MCAS Cherry Point.

January 1954 again saw the squadron transitioning aircraft, this time to the FJ Fury. The next few years saw a litany of small deployments onboard a multitude of aircraft carriers. The squadron relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in September of 1957 and in December of that year they became the first squadron in the Marine Corps to fly the F-8 Crusader. It was at this time that they transitioned from being the "Candystripers" to the new nickname of "Crusaders." The squadron became VMF(AW)-122 upon receiving all weather capable F-8Es in 1962. That year they also deployed to Key West to fly combat air patrol during the Cuban missile crisis.

Vietnam War

In 1964, VMF(AW)-122 deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi for a year and returned to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in January of 1965. While at El Toro they transitioned to the F4 Phantom and were redesignated VMFA-122. They deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967 and operated from the airbase at Danang. For the next five months, the squadron flew 2540 sorties and delivered 4800 tons of ordinance. In February of 1968, while supporting Marines during the Siege of Khe Sahn the squadron flew 629 sorties and dropped 1300 tons of ordinance. They rotated to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in September 1968 and returned to Vietnam during the summer of 1969, this time operating from Chu Lai.

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