My USMC Service: 11 August 1966-10 August 1970
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Republic of Viet Nam Service: May 1968-August 1969 

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Reunion Info
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2010 Los Angeles, Ca & Las Vegas, Nv

VMF (AW) 542 Far East Cruise 1961-1963 Cruise Book
2011 Las Vegas, Nv
2011 After Action Report & Photos
VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1965-1966
2013 (WEST) Las Vegas, Nv
2013 After Action Report & Photos VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1966-1967
2014 (EAST) Arlington, Va & Washington D.C. 2014 After Action Report & Photos
VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1967-1968
2015 (WEST) San Diego, Ca 
2015 After Action Report & Photos VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1968-1969
2016 (EAST) Washington D.C.
2016 After Action Report & Photos
2017 (WEST) Seattle, Wa
2017 After Action Report & Photos
2018 (EAST) TBA 2018 After Action Report & Photos

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


VMF (N) 542 WW II Patch

World War II

Marine Attack Squadron 542 was initially commissioned as Marine Night Fighter Squadron 542 (VMF(N)-542) on March 6, 1944, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Upon commissioning, the squadron was assigned the F6F Hellcat.

F6F Hellcat.

They were relocated to San Diego, California in mid-summer, 1944 in preparation for a move to the combat zone. Late in October, the squadron arrived at Ulithi, in the Caroline Islands and immediately began flying combat air patrols.
Squadron logo during WWII when they were VMF(N)-542

Later in 1944, VMF(N)-542 deployed to the Pacific theater. By early April 1945, most of the squadron had deployed to take part in the Battle of Okinawa. Night operations against the enemy began on April 15 with missions being flown from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa. Second Lieutenant Arcenaux was the first squadron pilot to down an enemy warplane with a night fighter on April 16, 1945. While stationed at Yontan, the Tigers were credited with destroying eighteen Japanese airplanes and carrying out rocket attacks on the Ryukyu Islands chain of Amami, Amami ƌshima, Tokunoshima, Kikai Shima, Miyako Jima, and Amami Gunto. For these actions the Tigers were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

 Between April and August 1945, Major Robert B. Porter and Captain Wallace E. Sigler became the first night fighter pilots to score their fifth victories on Okinawa. (Both had previous day victories; Capt. Robert Baird of VMFN-533 scored his fifth night kill on June 22.)

Following a short tour of occupation duty at Yokosuka, Japan, VMF(N)-542 was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. Training during this period was oriented towards night and all-weather fighter tactics and resulted in the squadron being re-designated Marine Night All-Weather Fighter Squadron 542 (VMF(AW)-542) in 1948.

VMF(AW)-542 Korean War Patch

Korean War

After receiving the new twin-engine, radar-upgraded F7F Tigercat, VMF(AW)-542 was ordered to Kimpo Airfield, South Korea in September 1950. From Kimpo, missions including close air support, air interdiction, and reconnaissance flights were conducted against the enemy in Korea.

F7F Tigercat,

Returning to El Toro, CA in March 1951, VMF(AW)-542 transitioned into the jet age by acquiring the F3D Skyknight.

F3D Skyknight.

F3D-2 of VMF(N)-542 at Pohang during the Korean War

The "Skynight" was the first carrier-borne jet night fighter. The Tigers used the F3D-2 to train pilots and Radar Intercept Officers for duty in Korea. During the Korean War, more enemy aircraft were destroyed by F3D's than by all other Navy types.

The squadron remained at MCAS El Toro, and in June 1958 accepted the F4D Skyray (affectionately known as the "Ford").

F4D-1 Skyray of VMF(AW)-542 at MCAS El Toro

Between August 1959 and November 1963, VMF(AW)-542 made two extended deployments to Atsugi, Japan.
VMF (AW) 542 Far East Cruise 1959-1960 Cruise Book
VMF (AW) 542 Far East Cruise 1961-1963 Cruise Book

On November 2, 1963, the Squadron was re-designated Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 542 (VMFA-542) and began training in the F-4B Phantom in place of the F-6 Skyray.

Vietnam War

VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1965-1966
VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1966-1967
VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1967-1968
VMFA 542 Cruise Book 1968-1969

Two F-4Bs of VMFA-542 over Vietnam in January 1969

As a result of the build up of American involvement in the Vietnam War, VMFA-542 was ordered to Japan in April 1965, followed by redeployment to the Republic of Vietnam a few weeks later. The squadron initially entered the country at Da Nang on July 10, 1965 and commenced air operations against the enemy shortly thereafter. Its primary mission at this time was to provide air support to Marine ground forces.

In August 1965, VMFA-542 supported the 7th Marine Regiment in Operation Starlite, the first major American operation of the war. The squadron's first tour in South Vietnam ended in early December 1965 when it redeployed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. VMA-542 spent three more tours in Southeast Asia. The Tigers returned to South Vietnam late in the winter of 1966 and remained until mid-summer the following year when they again moved to Japan. Beginning that fall, the Tigers began a thirteen-month deployment in the war zone. The Tigers' last combat tour in Southeast Asia started on May 10, 1968.

While serving in Vietnam, the Tigers furnished air support to ground forces in some of the largest land operations of the war. Included in these operations were: Utah, Texas, Prairie, Union, Kingfisher, Fremont, Allen Brook, Napolean-Saline, Lancaster, Scotland, Nevada Eagle, and Idaho Canyon. Close air support missions were not only flown on behalf of Marine ground personnel but also for American Army units and at times for South Vietnamese forces and for elements of the South Korean Marine Corps. In addition, the Tigers flew bombing missions in both Laos and North Vietnam. After the November 1968 bombing halt of North Vietnam, the Tigers flew escort for reconnaissance missions over that area. Strikes against enemy targets in Laos on the other hand were increased after the bombing halt. Enemy supply lines in Laos were hit especially hard throughout 1969. VMFA-542 dropped over 20,000 tons of ordnance in Southeast Asia from May 1968 to January 1970. The last mission flown by the squadron was a night interdiction flight over Laos on January 13, 1970. The rest of the month was spent preparing to leave South Vietnam. On January 30, the first echelon took off from Da Nang; the second echelon left the next day. Included in this flight to the United States were thirty-five tactical jet aircraft. Code name for this major relocation of Marine F-4's was Key Wallop II.

After the Tiger's return to California, VMFA-542 was placed in a cadre status. In April, the strength of the unit was down to one officer. Deactivation eventually came on June 30, 1970. The squadron's deactivation was of a short duration as it was reinstated as an active organization a year and a half later. Rebirth occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina on January 12, 1972. The squadron at this time received the designation of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542. Upon reactivation, the Tigers were assigned the new AV-8A Harrier. The Tigers thus became the second Marine squadron to be so equipped.