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VMFA-314*

Commissioned on October 1, 1943 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina as VMF-314. The squadron was given the nickname of, "Bob's Cats". It was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 32 (MAG 32) flying the F4U Corsair and began training immediately for combat in the Pacific. The squadron was reassigned to MAG-23, 3D MAW upon deployment to Midway Island in June 1944. The Squadron moved to Ie Shima in May 1945 to take part in the Battle of Okinawa. During the ensuing campaign, VMF-314 pilots were credited with 14 kills and the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. At the conclusion of hostilities, VMF-314 moved to Ky?sh?, Japan as part of the occupation force. In March 1946 the squadron returned to Cherry Point, was re-assigned to MAG-22, 9th MAW and was decommissioned on April 30, 1947.

Post war years

VMF-314 was again commissioned in 1952 at Miami, Florida and was assigned to MAG-31, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing flying the latest version of the Corsair. That same year, the squadron transitioned to the new F9F Panther. The next three years saw VMF-314 deployed twice, first to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and then to Atsugi, Japan for an eighteen month tour. VMF-314 earned the Korean Service Medal for operations conducted between Sept 11, 1953 and July 27, 1954 [1]. In 1955, VMF-314 returned from Japan and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 15, 3rd MAW, now stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California.

In 1957, the squadron received the new F4D Skyray and was designated VMF(AW)-314. During that same year, the squadron officially became the "Black Knights", was awarded the Commandant s Aviation Efficiency Trophy. They were briefly deployed to Atsugi, Japan and then throughout the Far East both on land, including Ping-tung, Taiwan in support of the Chinese Nationalist Party against the communists, as well as onboard the fast attack carriers USS Hancock and USS Ticonderoga.

In 1961, the squadron became the first Marine squadron to transition to the new F-4B Phantom II and was designated VMFA-314. Between 1961 and 1964, the squadron deployed eight times. These included three separate carrier deployments and a single-flight aerial refueling mission spanning the Pacific Ocean from MCAS El Toro to Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan.

Vietnam War

In 1965, VMFA-314 headed off onboard the USS Valley Forge for combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam. From 1965 to 1970, the squadron flew more than 25,000 combat hours out of Chu Lai and Da Nang airfields, and employed more than 100 million pounds of ordnance in support of the Marine rifleman and other Allied ground units. In 1968, they received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award. In 1969, VMFA 314 was awarded the Hanson Trophy as the best Fighter Attack Squadron in the Marine Corps. The Commandant s Efficiency Trophy was awarded to the squadron in 1969 and again in 1970. In September of 1970, VMFA-314 ended forty-nine months of deployed combat operations and received the Meritorious Unit Citation for its outstanding performance.

Post-Vietnam years

In May 1982, the squadron s last F-4 was transferred in preparation for transition to the new F/A-18 Hornet. In 1982, VMFA-314 received the first of its F/A-18s, becoming the first tactical squadron in the Marine Corps and Navy to employ the Hornet.

In 1985, VMFA-314 transferred to Carrier Air Wing 13, and embarked onboard the USS Coral Sea for duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. They participated in Freedom of Navigation operations in the vicinity of Libya and took part in combat operations in support of Operation El Dorado Canyon in the Gulf of Sidra and in Libya.

The Gulf War and the 1990s

In the Summer of 1990, while preparing to return to the Western Pacific, the squadron were rapidly deployed to the Persian Gulf and were the first Marine F/A-18 squadron to arrive in Bahrain for Operation Desert Shield as part of Marine Air Group 70. For nearly six months the "Black Knights" maintained 24 hour a day Combat Air Patrols over the Persian Gulf.

On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Shield shifted to Operation Desert Storm. The squadron flew over 1,500 hours and 814 combat sorties, more sorties than any other Navy or Marine Corps squadron. Missions flown during the war included Escort, SEAD, Mig Sweep, and Strike. They returned from the Middle East in March of 1991 without the loss of a single squadron member or aircraft.

In August 1992, VMFA-314 transferred to Carrier Air Wing 11 and in 1993 deployed to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. During the deployment the squadron participated in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the UN no-fly-zone in southern Iraq, and in Operation Continue Hope, providing close air support to the 13th and 22nd MEU off the coast of Somalia. The Squadron returned from cruise in December of 1993 and was reassigned to MAG-11.

In June 1994, VMFA-314 was one of the first MAG-11 squadrons to move from MCAS El Toro to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. In February 1996, the squadron received new lot 18 F/A-18C aircraft. In 1997, VMFA-314 transferred to Carrier Air Wing 9 and deployed on an Around the World cruise onboard the USS Nimitz. During the deployment, the squadron again participated in Operation Southern Watch.

In January of 2000 the squadron deployed aboard the USS John C. Stennis, with Carrier Air Wing Nine, for a six month deployment to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. While in the Gulf, the "Black Knights" flew contingency operations under combat conditions in support of UN Resolutions, delivering accurate air-to-ground ordnance under hostile fire.

Global War on Terror

VMFA-314 was called upon to deploy Marines and aircraft onboard the USS Stennis in support of Operation Noble Eagle. The attacks on September 11, 2001 caused the planned deployment onboard the Stennis to be accelerated by two months. Following a shortened at-sea period for FleetEx, VMFA-314 deployed on November 12, 2001 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The squadron began flying combat sorties on December 18, 2001 and delivered over 69,000 pounds of ordnance in support of U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan. Midway into a six-month deployment, VMFA-314 was extended in theater an extra five weeks resulting in a monumental 265 deployed days over a year s period including a 98-day straight at-sea period.


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