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Marine Fighting Squadron 124 "Whistling Death/Wild Aces" VMF-124
United States Marine Corps (USMC)

Background
Marine Fighting Squadron 124 (VMF-124) was formed September 7, 1942 at Camp Kearney. In late October 1942 they recieved some of the first F4U Vought Corsair built, making them first U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) squadron to receive the new fighter aircraft.

First Tour of Duty
The squadron left San Diego on January 8, 1943 aboard USS Lurline bound for the South Pacific under Commanding Officer (C.O.) Major William Gise. Assigned to the 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11).

On February 12, 1943 arrived on Guadalcanal. That afternoon, the squadron flew their first combat mission, logging nine hours in the air escorting a PBY Catalina on a 230 mile mission to pick up two downed pilots from Sandfly Bay off Vella Lavella.

On February 13, 1943 eleven Corsairs took off on an escort mission for nine PB4Y-1 Liberators on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping off southern Bougainville in the Buin-Shortland area. This was the first use of the Corsair on a combat misison in the South Pacific. Over the target, the formation is intercepted by Japanese Zeros and floatplanes.

On February 14, 1943 twelve Corsairs took off on an escort mission for PB4Y-1 Liberators on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping off southern Bougainville in the Buin-Shortland area. Over the target, the formation is intercepted by Japanese Zeros and floatplanes. Lost is F4U Corsair 02187 piloted by 1st Lt. Gordon Lee Lyon, Jr. (MIA) and F4U Corsair 02249 pilot 2nd Lt. Harold Ralph Stewart (MIA).

On May 13, 1943 fifteen F4U Corsairs led by Major William Gise took off from Fighter 1 on Guadalcanal at 12:10pm piloted by Major William Gise leading a scramble to intercept incoming Japanese aircraft. Over the Russell Islands, engaged in a dog fight with A6M2 Zeros from 204 Kokutai. Lost was F4U Corsair 02178 piloted by Major William Gise.

On May 14, 1943 Captain Brewer became the squadron's Commanding Officer (C.O.) and Captain Quilty Executive Officer (E.O.).

During June 1943, relieved Marine Fighting Squadron 213 (VMF-213).

On August 30, 1943 F4U Corsairs took off from Barakoma Airfield on a mission to escort B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahilli Airfield on southern Bougainville. Lost was F4U Corsair 02516 piloted by 1st Lt James L. Fowler.

Kenneth A. Walsh earned the Medal of Honor for two actions: August 15, 1943 and August 30, 1943. He was the first F4U Corsair pilot to earn the medal.

VMF-124 participating in the Russells, New Georgia, and Vella Lavella operations. On September 7, 1943 the squadron departed the Solomons Islands and returned to the United States for reorganization and training.

Second Tour of Duty
On September 18, 1944 Departed the United States aboard USS Ticonderoga CV-14 arriving at Pearl Harbor on September 24, 1944.

On December 28, 1944, Marine fighter squadrons VMF-124 and VMF-213 were assigned to Air Group 4, replacing Bombing Squadron 4 (VB-4). The assignment of VMF-124 and VMF-213 to the USS Essex made was the first use of Marine squadrons to augment carrier air groups during World War II.

After assignment to the Essex, VMF-124 and VMF-213 participated in actions against Lingayen, Luzon, Formosa, Tokyo, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

There were 54 pilots, 4 ground officers, and 120 enlisted men in the 2 squadrons when they came aboard the Essex. Lt Col William A. Millington was in command of VMF-124 and Major David E. Marshall commanded VMF-213.

References
One Man's Journey by Robert M. Berg
VMF-124 War Diary July 1943

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