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Marine Fighting Squadron 422 "Flying Buccaneers" VMF-422
United States Marine Corps (USMC)

Wartime History
Marine Fighting Squadron 422 (VMF-422) was established on January 1, 1943 at San Diego. Next, operated from Santa Barbara on January 27, 1943 then embarked on USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) to Pearl Harbor arriving October 12, 1943.

Wartime History
During the middle of January 1944 the squadron's Corsairs were flown from Ewa Field to Ford Island Airfield. On January 16, 1944 twenty-four Corsairs from VMF-422 were loaded aboard USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) the next day 27 pilots plus three enlisted men embarked aboard the escort carrier and departed across the Pacific. On January 24, 1944 the Corsairs took off from USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) within sight of Tarawa (Betio) then landed at Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field).

On January 25, 1944 at 9:45am twenty-three Corsairs from VMF took off from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field) led by by Major John S. Mac Laughlin, Jr. on a ferry flight bound for Nanumea Airfield then the second phase of the flight would be to Funafuti Airfield for use during "Operation Flintlock" against the Marshall Islands. One Corsair did not take off due to starter trouble. On take off, the weather was good with cumulus clouds at 1,500' and 3/10 overcast. The flight proceeded without a navigational escort and encountered a severe weather front that resulted in the loss of twenty-two of the Corsairs. Lost were including: F4U 17945 Mac Laughlin (MIA), F4U 18025 Thompson (MIA), F4U 18024 Rogers (MIA), F4U 18015 Lauesen (MIA), F4U 17990 Aycrigg (MIA), F4U 17833 Moran (KIA), F4U 55807, F4U 55872, F4U 55913, F4U 55906, F4U 55892, F4U 55883, F4U 55869, F4U 55825, F4U 55818, F4U 55817, F4U 55886 and F4U 18116 Lehnert (rescued), F4U 18075 Wilson (rescued), F4U 18054 Thurnaw (rescued).

Afterwards, it was deemed the flight was a failure because the flight proceeded with an outdated weather forecast and because Brigadier General Lewie G. Merritt failed to authorize an escort plane with a navigator nor did his staff alert the destination to about their intended arrival to provide radio assistance or aid in rescue efforts.

On February 28, 1944 F4U Corsair 03826 piloted by 1st Lt. Theodore D. Thurnau, Jr. crashed on take off at Apemama Airfield and was killed.

Commanding Officers (C.O.)
Captain James K. Dill January 1, 1943–July 15, 1943
Captain Edwin C. Fry –  April 2, 1943–July 16, 1943
Lt. Col. John S. Mac Laughlin, Jr. – July 17, 1943–January 25, 1944 Missing In Action (MIA)

NARA "Marine Fighting Squadron Four Twenty Two - 1 January 1943 to 31 December 1944" page 33-40, appendix D, page 2
(Page 33) "Twenty-four (24) Corsairs were ferried to Ford Island from MCAS, Ewa, on 16 January [1944] and put aboard CVE USS Kalinin Bay. It was planned to fly them from the CVE to Tarawa, Gilbert Islands on approaching within fifty miles of that base and from there to a newly won airstrip in the Marshalls. On 17 January twenty seven pilots and three enlisted men boarded the Kalinin Bay, sailing the following day. On the morning of 24 January the aircraft were catapulted as planned almost within sight of Tarawa and landed shortly after on Hawkins Field.
History of Marine Corps in World War II pages 228-230, 433, 470 (VMF-422 squadron summary)
Together We Served - VMF-422

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