This Unit Had Some of the Finest Marine Aces of World War II

Warfare History Network

Key Point: The Marines are tough and they used their aircraft to great effect. Here is how they fought and provided close air support.

“As a returning flight of Marine SBDs, dive bombers, were setting down on the airstrip, one of the planes lost a bomb which had failed to release during the mission. The bomb skidded down the runway and came to a stop in the middle of the field. No one knew if the bomb was armed. Everyone was ducking for cover. Where it lay it was preventing other planes from landing. So, Al Tierny, from St. Paul, Minnesota, and I volunteered to go out and get the bomb off the runway. We jumped in a small truck with a hoist and went out and hooked the bomb up, lifted it off the ground, and got it off to the end of the airstrip, permitting the waiting aircraft to land.” So reported Lance Corporal Robert Vannoy, who was not only an aircraft armorer, but also held a marksman’s badge.

According to my father, Lance Corporal Robert Vannoy, this was part of “life” on a Marine airstrip in the South Pacific.

VMF-115 of the Budding Marine Corps Air Arm

The entry of the United States into World War II saw a rapid expansion of the Marine Corps’ air arm, reaching a peak by 1945 of five air wings, 31 groups, and 145 squadrons, with just over 100,000 personnel.

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