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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-314 [VMFA-314]

Commissioned on Oct. 1, 1943 at Cherry Point, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) was assigned the F-4U Corsair, and began training immediately for combat in the Pacific. Deploying to Midway Island in June 1944, the squadron continued training until it moved to El Shima in May 1945 to take part in the invasion of Okinawa. During the ensuing campaign, VMFA-314 pilots were credited with 14 kills and the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. At the conclusion of hostilities, VMFA-314 moved to Kyushu, Japan, as part of the occupation force. March 1946 the squadron again return to Cherry Point, N.C., and was decommissioned April 30, 1947.

VMFA-314 was recommissioned in 1952 at Miami, Florida as part of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. The next three years VMFA-314 deployed twice: once to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and then to Atsugi, Japan for an eighteen month tour. In 1955, VMFA-314 returned from Japan to the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Miramar, Calif.

In 1957, the squadron received the new F-4D Skyray, was redesignated VMFA (AW)-314, and officially became the Black Knights. VMFA (AW)-314 capped it's significant achievements in 1957 by wining the Commandant's Efficiency Trophy.

Equipped with the F-4B, VMFA-314 embarked on a series of first in both Marine and Naval Aviation. Between 1961 and late 1964, VMFA-314 set an F-4B record of 1,314 flight hours in a 30 day period, and took part in 11 research development and evaluation projects, setting new standards in air-to-air weaponry.

In 1965, VMFA-314 returned to the Far East. In the four years of its combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam, VMFA-314 proved itself to be the foremost Marine squadron . The Black Knightsflew more than 25,000 combat hours, an F-4B record, and dropped more then 100 million pounds of ordnance in support of allied ground units. The Black Knights took part in operations in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and the Tonkin Gulf.

In 1968, the Black Knights received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation's Safety Award. In 1969, VMFA-314 was proud to claim the Hanson Trophy from the American Fighter Pilots Association for selection as the best Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron. The Commandant's Efficiency Trophy was awarded to the Black Knights in 1970. In September 1970, VMFA-314 ended 49 months of combat deployment and received the Meritorious Unit Citation for its outstanding performance.

The Black Knights continued to provide training for its fighter aircrew and ground personnel in all missions required of the F4 Phantom. May 24, 1982, the squadron's last F4 was transferred in preparation for transition to the new F/A-18 Hornet.

Dec. 15, 1982, VMFA-314 received its first two F/A-18's becoming the first tactical squadron in the Navy/Marine Corps inventory to employ the Hornet. Tasked with spear heading the transition to a new generation Strike Fighter, the Black Knights were the first to undergo a Marine Corps Combat Readines Evaluaion scoring 98 flying 351.7 hours. Later that year, VMFA-314 completed carrier qualifications aboard the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Constellation.

In 1985, VMFA-314 was transferred to Carrier Air Wing 13, and spent much of their time preparing for an upcoming cruise. In October, ten F/A-18's embarked aboard the USS Coral Sea for duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. With tensions high in the Middle East, the Black Knights participated in Freedom of Navigation operations in the vicinity of Libya. On April 15, 1986, VMFA-314 took part in Operation El Dorado Canyon, Gulf of Sidra and executed a combat strike on Libya. At the conclusion of this seven months cruise the Black Knights returned to MCAS El Toro and MAG-11. With operations established ashore, the Black Knights concentrated on increasing their readiness in close air support, low level tactics and air combat maneuvering in close air support. On July 1, 1986, a pilot successfully dropped a Walleye in the R-2507 range North of El Centro, Calif. This was the first time a teleguided weapon had been deployed from a VMFA-314 aircraft.

In 1987, VMFA-314 deployed to Egypt as part of Operation Bright Star 87, where six aircraft, nine pilots and a ground support team conducted dissimilar air combat training with the Egyptian Air Force. In 1988, VMFA-314 flew ten F/A-18s from MCAS El Toro to Balikesir, Turkey as part of MAG-50 for Display Determination-88, a joint North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercise.

In early 1989, VMFA-314 returned to Western Pacific, as part of the unit deployment program for the first time since their return from the Republic of Vietnam in 1970. The Black Knights participated in two consecutive Cope Thunder exercises in the Republic of the Philippines and several deployments throughout the far east to include Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and Kadena, Air Base, Okinawa in support of the Marine Corps front-line mission. The squadron returned to MCAS El Toro in October 1989.

In the summer of 1990, preparing to return to Western Pacific, the Black Knights were rapidly deployed to the Persian Gulf. They were the first Marine F/A-18 squadron to arrive in Bahrain for Operation Desert Shield as part of Marine Air Group 70. For nearly six months the Black Knights maintained a 24 hour a day combat air patrol over the Arabian Gulf.

Jan. 16, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became operation Desert Storm. The Black Knights missions included escort, harm, air-to-air fighter sweep, and strike. The Black Knights were also the only Marine squadron to utilize the Walleye II smart bomb during Desert Storm. The Black Knights returned from the Gulf at the end of hostilities in March 1991, without the loss of any squadron members or aircraft.

August 1992, VMFA-314 transferred to Carrier Air Wing 11 and deployed to the Indian Ocean and Persian gulf aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on June 15, 1993. During the deployment the squadron participated in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the "no-fly zone" in southern Iraq, and in Operation Continue Hope, providing close air support to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit off the coast of Somalia. The squadron returned from the cruise on Dec.15, 1993 and was reassigned to MAG-11. The squadron has continued to train while upgrading their jets with 92A software.

June 1994, VMFA-314 was one of the first MAG-11 squadron's to move from MCAS El Toro to Naval Air Station Miramar. The Black Knights received 18 new F/A-18C's from February 1996 to April 1996.

January 1997 VMFA-314 transferred to Carrier Airwing Nine. On Sept. 4, 1997, the Black Knights deployed on a world cruise to the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Nimitz. During the deployment, the squadron participated in Operation Sothern Watch enforcing the "no-fly zone" flying 1337 hours and over 572 sorties over southern Iraq. The squadron returned from the cruise March 1, 1998 and was rejoined to MAG-11.




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