Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG-13)
Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG-13), part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and based at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, consists of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 (MALS-13), Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 (MWSS-371), Marine Attack Squadrons 211, 214, 311, and 513, and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. VMAs 211, 214, 311, and 513 provide close-air support, conduct armed reconnaissance, and assume limited air-defense roles. VMFA-121 is the Marine Corps' first operational squadron employing the F-35B aircraft.
Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG-13) was established on 1 March 1942 in San Diego as a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While participating in the Marshall Island campaign, MAG-13 engaged in sustained combat operations against the Japanese on the Samoan Island of Tutuila, the Funafuti Atoll of the Ellice Islands, and the Majuro Atoll of the Marshall Islands.
MAG-13 was deactivated on 30 November 1945 after the conclusion of World War II, but was reactivated on 15 March 1951 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California in response to the Korean War. Between 1951 and 1965, MAG-13 was assigned to various locations such as Kaneohe Bay, Atsugi and Iwakuni, Japan. By early 1953, MAG-13 consisted of 2 fighter squadrons and Marine Air Control Squadron 2. Aviation units based at El Toro were rotated to MCAS Kaneohe Bay every 6 months for training until April 1954. On 1 May 1956, the 1st Marine Brigade assumed its title in lieu of the 1st Provisional Marine Air Ground Task Force designation, and MAG-13 provided the air support for the unique organization. It gained the distinction of being the only composite Marine Aircraft Group, comprised of fighter, attack and helicopter squadrons, supporting the ground arm of the brigade.
In September 1966, MAG-13 deployed to Chu Lai airbase in the Republic of Vietnam and conducted combat operations while flying the F-4B Phantom. Aircraft from MAG-13 supported the III Marine Amphibious Force and other forces in I Corps and II Corps tactical zones, Laos, North Vietnam, and Cambodia. The group returned to MCAS El Toro in October 1970 and was reassigned to MCAS Yuma, Arizona on 1 October 1987.
In the early 1980's, squadrons of MAG-13 flew the A-4 Skyhawk and the AV-8A Harrier. In 1985 the Nightmares of Marine Attack Squadron 513 became the first Marine squadron to transition to the AV-8B Harrier. Throughout the later part of the 1980's the Wake Island Avengers of Marine Attack Squadron 211, the Blacksheep of Marine Attack Squadron 214, and the Tomcats of Marine Attack Squadron 311 transitioned to the AV-8B Harrier. In early 1990, MAG-13 squadrons began upgrading to the AV-8B II Night Attack Harrier, which incorporated a night vision compatible cockpit, and provided a true night attack capability. In November 1990, MAG-13 deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Harriers from MAG-13 were the first Marine Corps tactical strike platform to arrive in theater, and subsequently operated from various expeditionary basing postures. Operating from the King Abdul Aziz Naval Air Base, MAG-13 Harriers were based as close as 35 nautical miles from the Kuwait border, making them the most forward deployed tactical strike aircraft in theater. After the Gulf War, MAG-13 Harriers deployed with the 11th, 13th, and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units, supporting combat operations in Somalia and Operation Southern Watch in Southwest Asia.
On 15 January 1996, 1st Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Company was redesignated and became known as Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1), a subordinate element of MAG-13. In December 1999, VMU-1 was reallligned under Marine Wing Support Group 37 in Twentynine Palms, California.
In 1999, MAG-13 Harrier squadrons upgraded to the AV-8B II +, which incorporated the AN/APG-65 all-weather multimode airborne radar. Immediately following the events of 11 September 2001, Harriers aboard USS Peleliu (LHA-5) and the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) attacked Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan during the opening phases of Operation Enduring Freedom.
From October 2002 to September 2003, VMA-513 (-) (Rein) deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Throughout the year VMA-513 (-) (Rein) provided close air support, armed reconnaissance, combat escort and precision strike capability for American and Coalition units with the newly introduced Litening II targeting pod.
In early January 2003, MAG-13 deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operating from the USS Bonhomme Richard and Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait, Harriers of MAG-13 destroyed Iraqi Republican Guard positions throughout Iraq, and provided critical close air support for United States Marines Corps ground force's advance to Baghdad.
Between 2003 and 2007, all 4 VMA squadrons of MAG-13 made multiple deployments to Al Asad Air Base to support coalition combat operations in Iraq. During this period, MAG-13 squadrons also deployed to Japan to support the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and provided Harrier detachments in support the 11th, 13th, and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units.
In 2005, MAG-13 squadrons upgraded the avionics and software systems of the AV-8B, enabling all weather precision strike capability. These warfighting enhancements were demonstrated in early 2006, when VMA-513 became the first Marine Harrier squadron to employ the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) in combat. Aside from sustainment training and flying combat missions in 2006, MAG-13 was tasked to be the lead Type, Model, Series (TMS) platform manager to develop courses of action and solutions for the new Naval Aviation Readiness Integrated Improvement Program (NAVRIIP) for Marine Corps fixed-wing aviation.
Historically, in July 2007, VMA-513 participated in Exercise Bold Step aboard the British warship HMS Illustrious. This opportunity to train along side our allies while operating from a British Naval vessel gave those who participated in the exercise a unique perspective of working in a combined training environment. This combined training significantly paved the way for a continued partnership in operations with our European allies. Additionally, VMA-211 was named Attack Squadron of the Year for 2007.
To round out 2007, VMA-513(-) was sent to Okinawa, Japan to provide support for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. They were sent to relieve VMA-214(-) who returned home after a one year deployment to the Far East. These 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments continue to be historic for the fact that, beginning in 2006 with VMA-311(-) and continuing through 2007, the Commanding Officers of VMA-311, VMA-214 and VMA-513 were embarked and deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, where they advised the Marine Expeditionary UNit Commander on fixed-wing aviation and training operations. In addition, between September 2001 and the end of 2007, MAG-13 had amassed over 15,000 combat flight hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
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