Marine Attack Squadron-211 [VMA-211]
Marine Attack Squadron (VMA)-211 is one of four AV-8B Harrier squadrons assigned to Marine Aircraft Group-13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Its mission is to provide close-air support, conduct armed reconnaissance and limited air-defense to Marine expeditionary forces.
VMA-211 began as Fighter Squadron 4M in 1937, flying the Grumman F-3F biplane fighter aircraft at Naval Air Station San Diego, Calif. The squadron moved to Ewa, Hawaii, in January 1941, and was redesignated VMF-211 while transitioning to Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats. In November 1941, VMF-211 flew 12 Wildcats aboard the USS Enterprise for movement to Wake Island, the scene of the squadron's heroic battle. On Dec. 8, the Japanese attacked, destroying seven of the 12 aircraft on the ground. In the next two weeks, the remaining five planes repelled numerous attacks and inflicted great losses on the enemy. During the course of the defense, the Marine ground forces and VMF-211 caused the loss of at least four enemy warships, the first major Japanese naval vessels sunk during the Pacific war. At least 21 enemy aircraft were shot down by flak and VMF-211. The first Marine airman to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II was VMF-211's Capt. Henry "Hammering Hank" Elrod. Wake Island was finally overrun on Dec. 25 by a numerically superior enemy. The squadron's rear echelon was subsequently transferred to Palmyra Atoll in the South Pacific and adopted the name "Avengers" in memory of those squadron members who were killed or captured on Wake Island. Flying the F-4U Corsair for the remainder of the war, VMF-211 participated in the Treasury-Bouganville, Bismark, Northern Solomon, Leyte and Southern Philippine campaigns.
After World War II, VMF-211 participated in the occupation of China and returned to Edenton, N.C., in 1949. While operating aboard the USS Coral Sea in 1952, the squadron was redesignated VMA-211. In 1957, the squadron received its first A-4 Skyhawks and subsequently moved to El Toro, Calif., in 1958. With escalation of the Vietnam conflict, VMA-211 moved to Japan in 1965 and commenced the first of four deployments to the Republic of Vietnam.
In August 1976, the squadron returned to El Toro where it replaced its old A-4Es with the latest Skyhawk model, the A-4M. In September 1987, the squadron celebrated an aviation milestone when it passed 30 years of flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. After successfully completing the last overseas deployment with the A-4M Skyhawk in 1989, VMA-211 began transferring these aircraft to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in preparation for transition to the AV-8B Night Attack aircraft.
In June 1990, the squadron began flying the Night Attack Harrier, and presently flies both the standard and the Night Attack model, while receiving more Harriers and training pilots in the night attack mission. The Avengers have been awarded the Marine Corps Aviation Association "Attack Squadron of the Year" for 1995 and 1996. The squadron has also received the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni January 7, 2004 for their six-month tour under the Unit Deployment Program. The Wake Island Avengers came from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., and came prepared with six aircraft and approximately 120 Marines from the squadron and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13. This marked the second time in two years that they had been deployed to Iwakuni. The Avengers replaced Marine Attack Squadron 231 Ace of Spades.
The Marine Attack Squadron's primary mission while on Station will be to provide support for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
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