History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531

History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531
History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531
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This history traces a half century of active service by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531. It was a unique squadron because its history demonstrates the complete evolution from night fighter to all-weather fighter to fighter-attack. Its earliest days placed the Marine Corps as the pioneer of all the military Services in night fighting. From the primitive converted civilian airliner, the PV-1, to the most modern Marine Corps fighter, the F/A-18, the “Grey Ghosts” evolved as their tactics changed. Their service covered the globe: Cherry Point on the East Coast, Texas, El Toro on the West Coast, the Southwest Pacific, Iwakuni in Japan, Cubi Point in the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean.

This is an operational narrative of one of the Marine Corps’ most unusual aviation squadrons moving through three successive and different fighter roles during 50 years of continuous service. It was a pioneer in several ways, and the superior quality of its performance was marked by numerous awards. Information for this history was drawn from primary sources in command diaries and chronologies and from interviews, base newspapers, published historical works, and valuable information from the files and helpful personnel of the Reference Section at the Marine Corps Historical Center. In addition, Major William Henson and First Lieutenant Wesley Johnson, two squadron “alumni” who have been active in the “Grey Ghosts,” contributed information and essential photographs.

Table of Contents

Foreword p. iii
Preface p. v
Table of Contents p. vii

Facing the Problem p. 1
1942: Getting Started—Washington and Cherry Point p. 2
Growing Pains at Cherry Point p. 4
To the Solomons and War p. 9
February 1944 Climax p. 14

Tigercats in Texas and China p. 20
Postwar Survival at cherry Point p. 22
Enter the Jets: The Skyknight p. 27
Skyrays to WestPac p. 29
Phantoms and MiGs Over the Florida Straits p. 35

Phantoms to WestPac p. 39
Combat in Vietnam p. 43
Cherry Point Again: rebuilding and Training p. 51
Rebirth and Renaissance at El Toro p. 52
To the Mediterranean on the Forrestal p. 56

El Toro Home Interlude p. 59
The Indian Ocean on the Coral Sea p. 62
El Toro Again: Enter the Hornets p. 67
Back to WestPac p. 74
The Final Chapter p. 78

Notes p. 80
Appendix A: Marine Night Fighting – 1944 p. 86
Appendix B: Marine Close Air Support – 1965 p. 87
Appendix C: Commanding Officers p. 88
Appendix D: Chronology p. 90
Appendix E: Honors p. 92
Appendix F: Citations p. 93
Appendix G: Squadron Aircraft p. 99
Appendix H: Squadron Insignia p. 100


Anyone interested in the history of the Marine Corps, special missions, aircraft, and military history, strategies, and first-hand experiences since WWII would enjoy this book.

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Defense Dept., Marine Corps Headquarters, History and Museums Division
  • Quilter, Charles J., 2nd
Key Phrases:
  • Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531
  • Marine Corps History
  • Military History
  • History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531
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