History of Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 115
VMFA 115 was first organized as VMF-115 in July 1943 at Santa Barbara, CA, under the command of Major J.S. MacLaughton, who relinquished command 16 days later to one of the Marine Corps' most famous aces — Major Joseph Foss, who held a record of 26 kills in combat. The squadron stayed at Santa Barbara, in training status, until February 1944, when it was transferred overseas to join the support of the Pacific campaign in the actions on Rabaul, Leyte, Mindanao, Subic Bay, and Zanga Zanga. On 23 Feb. 1945, VMF-115 sunk the first submarine by Corsairs, by skip-bombing 1,000-pound bombs from altitudes as low as 25 feet.
After WWII, the entire squadron was transferred to Peiping, China, where it was on alert to protect U.S. interests in the event of attack by communist forces. From China, the unit was transferred to Ewa (HI) and then later to Edenton (NC), where it became the first Marine squadron to receive a complete complement of F9F Panther jet aircraft in Dec. 1949. The early part of 1950 was devoted to jet checkout, operations in the Puerto Rica area, transfer to Cherry Point (NC) combat demonstrations, and finally, a demonstration before the president of the United States and his Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Quantico (VA) in June 1950. October of the same year found VMF-115 aboard the USS Roosevelt, where it became the first Marine Panther jet squadron to qualify and serve aboard a Navy carrier.
During the later part of 1950 and the first part of 1951, the squadron participated in more training operations and demonstrations. The training became reality when 115 was transferred to Pohang, Korea, serving with MAG-33. There VMF-115 flew more than 9,250 combat sorties, more than 15,350 combat hours (most in sub-marginal weather), and expended more ordnance than any other jet squadron.
After Korea, the squadron again went into training to maintain its combat readiness, flew air patrols, and received indoctrination in night-bombing/strafing missions until it was transferred to MCAS El Toro. There it received the first F4D Skyrays in early spring 1957, and became VMF(AW) 115. February 1958 found 115 at Atsugi (Japan), and during Sept. 115 sailed for temporary additional duty with Westpac aboard the USS Windham County to Pingtung, Taiwan to reinforce the island's air defense during the crisis over the Formosa straits. After returning to Yokosuka (Japan) in March 1959, VMF(AW) 115 executed a series of reassignments between Japan and Cherry Point, arriving in NC in May 1959, back to 1st MAW in June 1960, and back to MAG 24, 2nd MAW in July 1961.
Being the last Marine squadron to fly the F4D, 115 was redesignated VMFA 115 on 1 Jan. 1964 and transitioned to the Mach II Phantom F4B aircraft. After an intensive stateside training program in the F4B, VMFA 115 was once again reassigned to the Far East and arrived at Atsugi during July 1965. That same month saw 115 deploy to MCAS Iwakuni, in preparation for movement to the Republic of Vietnam, and deployment to Danang Air Base was accomplished between 30 Sept. and 18 Oct. 1965. During three months of combat, 115 compiled an enviable combat record, then returned to Iwakuni in Jan. 1966. On 15 April 1966, the Silver Eagles of VMFA 115 again returned "in country" as part of Marine Aircraft Group 11. In support of Operation Hastings during the month of July alone, 115 set a record for all Marine F4B squadrons in Vietnam by flying 1001.7 hours on 727 sorties while expending 935.78 tons of ordnance.
On 15 Feb. 1967, VMFA 115 again returned to MCAS Iwakuni for more training and a little R&R. While in Japan a portion of the squadron deployed to Naha, Okinawa (where John Wayne visited 115's flight line) for live-ordnance drops in preparation for its return to Vietnam. On 15 May 1967, the Silver Eagles made their third command performance in Vietnam, now as a part of MAG 13, located at MCAS Chu Lai.
VMFA 115's mission—"Intercept and destroy enemy aircraft and missiles under all weather conditions, and attack and destroy surface targets and conduct other such operations as may be directed."