Point of Contact = Squadron Duty Officer (SDO). See FAQ/Research/Contact link under [SA] in the menu.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Johnston
Courtesy of Maxie Jarrell
Courtesy of Bob Herrman
VMA-331 Bumblebees Courtesy of Lynn Savage
From Lee Jackson
VMA-331 has always used a patch displaying a Bumblebee riding a bomb and guiding itself with a bombing telescope sight. The shape of the bomb and color change over the years but the basic patch remains the same.
Harry S. Gann
Major Maxie Jarrell USMCR-R
Major Fred Miclon USMC
Naval Aviation News
Lynn E. Savage
Captain Frank E. Sturges USMCR.
Cpl. David M. (Mike) MacNealy
1943 to present - - - Bumblebees.
During WW-II Squadron personnel used the name "Doodlebug" for the squadron.
1 Jan 1943- - - - Marine Bomber Squadron 331 (VMSB-331) was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point.
Oct 1944- - - - - VMSB-331 was re-designated VMBF-331
30 Dec 1944 - - - VMBF-331 was re-designated VMSB-331
21 Nov 1945 - - - VMSB-331 was dis-established
ca. 1954- - - - - VMA-331 was re-established
ca. 1983- - - - - VMA-331 was ordered to Stand-down.
ca. 1986- - - - - VMA-331 was ordered to Stand-up.
Date - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Location:
1943- - - - - - - - - - Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina
195?- - - - - - - - - - Marine Corps Air Station Opa Loca, (Miami) Florida.
1960- - - - - - - - - - Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
Dec 1975 - Mar 1983 - - Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina
08 JUN 1964 to 13 MAR 1965: - AJ - CVW-8
23 Jun 1970 to 31 Jan 1971: - AG - CVW-7
Date Type First Received - - - - - - Type of Aircraft:
1943 - - - - - - - North American SNJ Trainer.
1943 - - - - - - - Douglas SBD (Speed-D-Bee) Dauntless.
194? - - - - - - - Vought F4U-4 Corsair.
1954 - - - - - - - Douglas AD-5 Skyraider.
1959 - - - - - - - Douglas AD-6 Skyraider.
15 July 1958 - - - Douglas a4d-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk *
14 June 1963 - - - Douglas A4D-5 (A-4E) Skyhawk *
8 December 1965- - Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk *
5 November 1970- - Douglas A-4M Skyhawk.
1986 - - - - - - - ?????????
* November 30, 1962
The A4D-2 designation changed to A-4B
The A4D-2N designation changed to A-4C
The A4D-5 designation changed to A-4E
For A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit see lower in this page:
Departure/Return Dates: - Tail Code - A/C - - Group- - Location - Operations Area.
1959 (14 months): ??? - - - AD-6 - - ???- - - WestPac
June 1963: AJ A-4E - -CAG-8- - USS Forrestal;- - Carrier Qualifications
24FEB64 to 08APR64: VL A-4E MAG31 MCAS Yuma for Training
09APR64 to 18APR64: VL A-4E MAG31 MCRD P.I. (Page Field - SATS)
08JUN64 to 18JUN64: AJ A-4E CAG-8 U.S.S. Forrestal for ORI and Carrier Quals
10 July 1964 - 13 Mar 1965 - AJ 5xx- - A-4E- - CAG-8- - USS Forrestal - Mediterranean
JUN65 to 25AUG65: VL A4E- - MAG-31 - NS Roosevelt Roads, PR
14SEP65 to 20OCT65: VL A-4E- - MAG-31 - Larissa, Greece - NATO Exercise
30MAR66: VL- - - - A-4E- - MAG-31 - NS Roosevelt Roads, PR
MAR69 to 02 MAY 1966: VL- - - - A-4E- - MAG 31 - MCAS Yuma, AZ
OCT69: AG 3xx- - A-4E- - CVW-7- - USS Independence
FEB70: VL- - - - A-4E- - MAG 31 - MCAS Yuma, AZ
MAY70: AG 3xx- - A-4E- - CVW-7- - USS Independence
JUN70: VL- - - - A-4E- - MAG 31 - MCAS Yuma, AZ
23JUN70 to 31JAN71: AG 3xx- - A-4E- - CVW-7 - USS Independence - Mediterranean
DEC73 to JUN74: VL- - - - A-4M- - MAG 31 ; NAS Roosevelt Roads, PR
AUG76: VL- - - - A-4M------ NAS Roosevelt Roads, PR
APR77: EAF (Expeditionary Airfield) --29 Palms for a 5 day exercise.
1943 - - - - - - - Captain R D Cox
1943 - - - - - - - Major J L Beam
1943 - - - - - - - Captain J A Feeley
1944 - - - - - - - Major J C Otis
1944 - - - - - - - Major P R Byrum
1945 - - - - - - - Major J H Mceniry
1945 - - - - - - - Captain P J Ebsen
1945 - - - - - - - Major J H Stock
1945 - - - - - - - Major W E Jewson
1952 - - - - - - - Captain G W Curtis
1952 - - - - - - - Captain C H Jones
1952 - - - - - - - Ltcol J A Golchrist
1953 - - - - - - - Major W T Porter
1953 - - - - - - - Ltcol W L Gaffney
1955 - - - - - - - Ltcol G F Vaughan
1956 - - - - - - - Major E P Carey
1956 - - - - - - - Ltcol C C Lee
1957 - - - - - - - Ltcol E P Carey
1959 - - - - - - - Ltcol J E Barnett
1961 - - - - - - - Ltcol J C Prestridge
1961 - - - - - - - Ltcol Don Conroy
1963 - - - - - - - Ltcol S H Carpenter
1965 - - - - - - - Ltcol R F Warren
1966 - - - - - - - Ltcol G V Hodde
1966 - - - - - - - Ltcol E K Jacks
1967 - - - - - - - Major R L Critz
1967 - - - - - - - LtCol C E Tucker (Chester Everett)
9/13/1967 - - - - Lt.Col. P F Maginnis
1968 - - - - - - - Major T M D'andrea
1969 - - - - - - - Major F T Sullivan
1971 - - - - - - - Ltcol J J Caldas
1971 - - - - - - - Ltcol P E Brookshire
1972 - - - - - - - Ltcol T D Brooks
1973 - - - - - - - Ltcol S P Brutcher
1974 - - - - - - - Ltcol D E Baker
1975 - - - - - - - Major R L Wood
1976 - - - - - - - Ltcol R B Savage
1977 - - - - - - - Ltcol R H Ulm
1978 - - - - - - - Ltcol S M Horton
1979 - - - - - - - Ltcol M R Snedeker
Sep 1979-Jun 1981 -Ltcol M W Wehrung
1981 - - - - - - - Ltcol J L Adkinson
1983 - - - - - - - Standown
1986 - - - - - - - Standup
8 Jun 1964 - 18 Jun 1964: The Bumblebees accomplished 108 night carrier landings in 6 hours. This is believed to be the highest number of carrier qualifications in such a period aboard the Forrestal. The previous high was 89. (Naval Aviation News (Aug ’64, pg 33))
1990: The Bumblebees were selected by the Marine Corps Association as the "Attack Squadron of the Year."
No additional info
January 1943: Marine Bomber Squadron 331 (VMSB-331) was commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Rhode Island. The Bumblebees were assigned the Douglas SBD Dauntless - Slow But Deadly - which the Squadron dubbed the Speed-D-Bee.
1944: VMSB-331 flew the SBD in combat through the central Pacific islands, places such as Majuro Atoll or Nukufetau in the Marshall Islands.
May 16, 1960: 1st Lt. Eddie Smith, 22, was killed and Capt. Gerald Peterson, 29, died Tuesday when their jet aircraft (A4D-2 BuNo 142804 and A4D-2 BuNo 142812) collided during takeoff for a training mission about 11:30 a. m. Monday at the marine air station near here (Beaufort). Aiken Standard and Review, Tuesday, May 17, 1960 and The Danville Bee, Wednesday, May 18, 1960.
May 28, 1960: First Lt. Paul Leopold Drotch of Trumbull, Conn., was killed instantly when his A4D (BuNo 142813) light attack plane crashed three miles S of the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba on a routine training exercise, the Navy said. No other personnel were injured. Oakland Tribune, Sunday, May 29, 1960. A U.S. Marine pilot was killed when his A4D plunged through a boundary fence at Guantanamo Bay and exploded 500 yards away in Cuban territory while flying close ground support for a detachment of Marines engaged in maneuvers. The plane (VMA-331) from Cherry Point, NC, was on a training mission. Cuban Army officials cooperated in recovery of the body and the plane wreckage. Rocky Mount Telegram, Monday, May 30, 1960.;
August 12, 1960: Lt. Robert Roy Ladd, 25, was killed Friday at MCAS Beaufort when his A4D (BuNo 142853) crashed on landing when the plane came down short of the runway. Lt. Ladd was landing with three other planes of Beaufort based VMA-331 from a three month tour of the Caribbean. North Adams Transcript, Monday, August 15, 1960.
1961: I was in VMA 331 from Jul 57 until the spring of 62 just before I got orders to go to Fighters Weapons School at Nellis. We flew AD-5's at Opa Locka until the summer of 59 and then deployed to West Pac for 14 months where we flew the AD-6. We were the last AD Squadron in the Marine Corps. The Sqdrn. Flag was transferred back to MCAS Beaufort, SC. I was lucky enough to be one of two pilots who got to stay in the Sqdrn. We transitioned into the A4D-2. and spent about five months in 30 to 60 day increments in Gitmo and Rosie Rds. getting ready for the Bay of Pigs. I took a camera with me on most every flight. Ray Powell.
1962: VMA-331 deployed to Guantanamo (Leeward Point), Cuba during the Bay of Pigs (17-20 April 1961) and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico during the
of Cuba (October 22 to November 21, 1962). 10 aircraft deployed to Gitmo and 10 to Roosevelt Roads during each incident.
Two Skyhawks were lost during a two plane section take-off the day the Bumblebees left Beaufort for the Caribbean. A very gusty cross-wind blew the lead aircraft into the wingman. (BuNo 142802 was SOC 14 August 1962 and 142795 was SOC 22 August 1962)
At Leeward Point a Skyhawk making a low level practice gunnery run hit the base perimeter fence. Another Skyhawk flew into the ocean off Viegas, Puerto Rico.
No one was killed when a Squadron liberty run plane went in off the end of the runway and into the drink at St. Thomas.
After these Caribbean escapades the Bumblebees became known as the "Suicide Squadron."
April 11, 1963: 1st Lt. Robert D. Miller, 26, from MCAS Beaufort was lost at sea Thursday night during flight operations aboard the carrier Forrestal 60 miles off the Virginia Capes. After a wave-off by the LSO the A4D (BuNo 142766) flew about two miles ahead of the Forrestal before flipping into the water and disintegrating at 8:11 p.m. His squadron, from MCAS Beaufort, was aboard the Forrestal for CARQUALS. The Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Iowa, Friday, April 12, 1963. 2110 plane crashed into the sea off port bow, Long. 36 degrees 25.5’N; Lat. 75 degrees 00’W, in 26 fathoms of water. Captain Lawrence R. Geis has the conn. Maneuvering on various courses and speeds while searching for pilot of downed aircraft. Directed destroyers to proceed to vicinity of crash to search. 2059 downed aircraft was an A-4B Skyhawk BuNo. 142766, of VMA-331 the Hornets, piloted by 1st LT R.D. Miller, USMC. 2112 port lifeboat away with medical officer embarked proceeding to USS Corry (DDR-817) to return recovered debris. 2304 port lifeboat returned to ship. USS Forrestal deck log, Thursday, 11 April 1963. Destroyers are conducting an expanded square search for downed pilot 1st. LT. R.D. Miller, USMC. Search and Rescue Commander is Captain Geis, Commanding Officer of Forrestal. USS Corry is directing Search and Rescue unit in search. 0400 LTJG. R. J. Everson assumed the OOD watch. Released USS Charles P. Cecil (DD-835) and directed her to report to Search and Rescue Commander in Coast Guard Cutter 82310 to continue search for 1st. LT. R.D. Miller, USMC. 0402 directed USS Corry to follow in the wake of Forrestal. 0403 discontinued search for 1st. LT. R.D. Miller, USMC. USS Forrestal deck log, Friday, 12 April 1963.
May 19, 1963: Lt. Glenn C. Ramin, 24, ejected safely at 3,000 feet over the Cooper River, 19 miles N of Charleston Wednesday. He was on a practice bombing flight to Myrtle Beach AFB when his engine developed an oil leak and he diverted to Charleston. His flaming A-4E (BuNo 150045) crashed in a vacant field and he had a soft landing in three feet of mud in a submerged rice field. A fisherman boated him to shore and a Beaufort helicopter brought him dry clothes and ferried him back to base. The Greenville News, Thursday, 20 May 1965.
June 8, 1964 - June 18, 1964: The Bumblebees accomplished 108 night carrier landings in 6 hours. This is believed to be the highest number of carrier qualifications in such a period aboard the Forrestal. The previous high was 89. (Naval Aviation News (Aug ’64, pg 33))
August 25, 1965: Capt. Ben Summers ejected safely when his Skyhawk (BuNo 150114) bound from Puerto Rico to Beaufort, SC crashed in the ocean Wednesday according to the USCG. Louis Jacob and Ronnie Black, from nearby Salerno, FL, heard the explosion, witnessed the crash and saw the pilot parachuting into the sea a mile and a half from their boat went to his aid and picked him up. The Danville Register, Thursday, August 26, 1965.
August 26, 1965: Jet Stream, the Beaufort Base Paper - August 26, 1965. Provided by Mike MacNealy via Norman Patterson
1965: VMA-331 MED Cruise Information, provided by Mike MacNeal via Norm Patterson.
March 24, 1966: Lt. Donald J. Beary, 22, ejected safely from his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 150014) before it crashed near the Point of Marsh bombing range at the mouth of the Neuse river (Cherry Point, NC). Lt. Beary was on a practice bombing mission and Marine personnel from the bombing range used a small boat to rescue the Lt. who was returned to the air station by helicopter. The Register, Danville, VA, Friday, March 25, 1966.
August 18, 1967: Capt. Michael Donovan ejected safely before his A-4 Skyhawk Jet crashed north of Laurel about 5:45 p.m. Friday in a pasture near Sandersville owned by Lynn Blackledge. Capt. Donovan landed in a field owned by Ed Lee Gatlin about 2 1/2 miles from where his plane hit. He was picked up about an hour after the crash by a rescue helicopter from NAS Meridian where both planes had been re-fueled moments before the crash. The pilot of the second plane, Capt. Peter Erenfeld, landed at the Laurel airport with only 200 - 300 feet of runway to spare after blowing a tire. A witness, Joe Swain, saw them flying in close formation when one seemed to roll over and nosed down. He said the other plane circled the parachute once or twice before flying on to Laurel. The planes were on a training flight from MCAS Beaufort, SC, to Tinker AFB, OK. Laurel Leader-Call, Tuesday, August 19, 1967. Capt. Michael Donovan parachuted to safety before his A-4 Skyhawk Jet crashed in the Rustin Community about 20 miles from Laurel Friday while on a training mission from Marine Corp Base in Beaufort, SC. A second plane on the training mission landed safely at the Laurel airport after the pilot, Capt. Peter Erenfeld, noticed his oil gauge registered empty. Laurel Leader-Call, Tuesday, August 22, 1967. Laurel Leader-Call photo.
September 13, 1967: LCol. Chester E. Tucker, 41, (CO, VMA-331, MCAS Beaufort) ejected and was killed Wednesday in conditions describes as "practically zero." Tucker was enroute from Beaufort to Sanford when the plane (BuNo 151195) crashed 10 miles SW of Daytona Beach, FL, near I-4 about 4 miles west of US-92. He apparently ejected too late and his body was found about 100 yards from the planes wreckage. Mount Vernon Register, Thursday, September 14, 1967. LCol. C.E. Tucker (CO) ejected and was killed while flying a profile refueling certification in preparation for a Translant to Turkey. The profile was Beaufort, Orlando, St Petersburg, direct Brownsville (refuel 100 nm south of New Orleans) then same track back to Beaufort with second refueling south of New Orleans. After second refueling and approaching St Petersburg, lead called for the flight to close up because of a line of thunderstorms in their path. LCol Tucker, who was last in the flight of 9 or 10 aircraft was rapidly closing on the flight when the flight went into the clouds. Lt Col Tucker was seen to break away and no further radio transmissions were heard from him despite numerous calls. A short time later a report of an aircraft crash between St. Petersburg and Orlando was received by the squadron and LCol Tucker's body was found in the wreck. From Bill Wehrung. Tucker apparently had turned over the lead to another plane and dropped back in a loose trail as #4. When he realized they were heading into some high clouds (storm tops), someone in his flight saw him trying to close on the flight at a very high rate of closure but wasn't able to join up before they went IFR. That was the last contact the flight saw or heard of him. About a half hour later, my group landed back at NBC and about the time we got into the ready room, the report came in that his plane had crashed in FL at high speed in an almost vertical dive. From Bill McVey. I was flying with LCol tucker the day he got killed. We were preparing for a deployment to Izmir Turkey and were practicing some long range flights for the ocean crossing with AR refreshers for the pilots going over. He disappeared into the top of thin cirrus at about 33,000 feet and he never came out the other side. Beneath was a well developed thunderstorm. He ejected but too late. A woman found him still in or near his seat. This occurred near Orlando FL. We had gone across the Gulf of Mexico and were returning to Beaufort when the accident happened. From Ray Rauenhorst. LtCol Paul Mcginnis assumed command and kept VL 02 "The Muscle Bee" as his plane for his entire tour.
May 21, 1970: Maj. Robert C. Blackington, Jr. ejected (BuNo 150081) right after launch due to a control malfunction. From John Caldas. 1243 Plane in the water off catapult #1 parachute with pilot spotted 000 deg. about 1 mile A/E stop, A/E back full, right 30 deg. rudder. Sounded man overboard. Manned port lifeboat. Rescue helo maneuvering to recover pilot. 1248 Pilot recovered and returned to ship. Requested USS Johnston (DD-821) to proceed through A/C impact area to search for and recover debris. 1252 Received word that pilot of A/C was Major R.C. Blackington, USMC. A/C was VMA-331 AJAR 333 BuNo 150081. Position of crash was 35-32.5N 74-32.6 W in 1200 fathoms of water. 2004 Received accident report on Blackington, Robert C. Jr. Major, USMC, who received a small compression fracture of the fifth lumbar, questionable small compression fracture of the seventh cervical, and an old compression fracture of the fifth thorax. Treatment to medical observation with temporary disability. USS Independence deck log, Thursday, 21 May 1970.
June 23, 1970 - January 31, 1971: VMA-331 flying A-4E Skyhawks deployed to the Mediterranean on CVA-62 USS Independence.
July 31, 1970: 1st Lt. "Ken" L. Heitel (USMC) ejected safely when the nose of his aircraft pitched down as he went off the angled deck after several hook-skip bolters. He was picked up by the Angel without injury. From Alan Morrison. 1214 A-4E aircraft crashed into the sea and sank at Lattitude 40-34.7 N longitude 11-47.7 E in 1400 fathoms of water. Aircraft was attached to VMA-331, Bureau No. 151180 and the pilot was 1st Lt. Kenneth L. Heitel, USMC. Pilot ejected safely and was recovered by helo No. 552 at 1219. USS Independence deck log, Friday, 31 July 1970. Lt. Ken Heitel (USMC) had a hook skip in A-4E BuNo 151180 and when he added throttle he couldn't get a positive rate of climb. The Skyhawk settled slightly and Ken ejected and was picked up by the Angel without injury. That's BuNo 151086 parked on the edge of the deck.
October 14, 1970: 1st. Lt. Rodney M. Smith, 26, was killed when he crashed (BuNo 152011) at sea during night bombing practice from the USS Independence. From Alan Morrison. 2038 Received report of A-4 aircraft No. 305 in water bearing 282 (T) at 22 miles from this ship. Ship's position at time of accident 39-32.75N, 24-47.75E. Aircraft position 39-37N, 24-18.5E. Ordered C.T.S. Iskkendrun, DD-343, (former USS Boyd, DD-544, transferred to Turkey as TCG Iskenderun, D343) to proceed to area of accident. USS Byrd (DDG-23) and I.T.S. Impavido (Italian D570) ordered by Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 8 to proceed to accident area and commence search for remains of A/C. 2142 C/C to proceed to accident area. 2205 Commander Destroyer Divison 22 embarked on USS Byrd (DDG-23) assumed tactical command of USS Byrd (DDG-23), I.T.S. Impavido and C.T.S. Iskkendrun for search purposes. USS Independence deck log, Wednesday, 14 October 1970. 1st. Lt. Rodney M. Smith, 26, was killed October 14 when his plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during a training mission bomb run. He was assigned to the USS Independence and his body was not recovered. El Paso Herald-Post, Monday, October 19, 1970.
November 20, 1970: Capt. Leslie (Les) Herman ejected from AG-311 (BuNo 149648) when his engine failed on the cat shot. He was recovered by the HS-2 Angel and was back on deck 7 minutes after launch. From John Caldas. 1106 A-4 Bureau No 149648 of VMA-331, pilot Leslie B. Herman, Capt, USMC, crashed into the sea about 4,000 yards off the stbd bow at latitude 35-28.5N, longitude 22-32.9E, and sank in 2,000 fms of water. 1111 Pilot recovered by helo (HS-2) and returned aboard. Cause of the accident and extent of pilot injuries unknown. USS Independence deck log, Friday, 20 November 1970.
1970 MED: Med Cruise pdf
September 29, 1971: 1st. Lt. D.A. Williams, 25, was killed Wednesday when his A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo 151196) crashed during a training mission at the Naval Target Facility, Camp Blanding, FL. The Bee: Danville, VA, Thursday, September 30, 1971.
1972: From Lee Jackson.
April 26 1972 Capt. Henry A. Robertson ejected safely shortly before his Skyhawk (BuNo 158190) crashed Wednesday when the engine caught fire. The jet slammed into a field near a barn on the grounds of Clarendon plantation two miles north of MCAS Beaufort. The Greenville News. Capt. Henry A. Robertson ejected safely from his disabled A-4M Marine attack plane coming in for a landing. The plane crashed in a cow pasture and burned. The Danville Register, Thursday, 27 April 1972. Capt. Henry A. Robertson, 32, parachuted safely from his disabled MCAS Beaufort A-4M Marine attack plane coming in for a landing. The plane crashed and burned in a pasture. The Index Journal, Monday, 01 May 1972. Pilot was "Robbie" Robertson. Muffled explosion and flame out while entering the break at MCAS Beaufort. Managed to steer clear of the airfield before he ejected. Aircraft crashed on some plantation nearby. After a preliminary investigation, I called in a rep. from the Navy Safety Center for help. We first thought it was the generator, but after sifting through lots of stuff at the crash site, discovered the failed parts of the CSD. That accident led to short time fix of beefing up the CSD housing of all A4M's with that particular manufacturer (do not remember which one) to prevent debris from causing an engine failure. This to allow us to fly the M's until the manufacturer could do a major change to the CSD. Col R.L. Upchurch USMC (Ret) XO of 331 and senior member of the board for this accident.
May 8, 1973: 1st Lt. Peter Kessler Williams, 24, VMA-331, was killed in a crash (BuNo 158175) and lost at sea May 8 while on a routine flight out of Beaufort. Arizona Republic, Friday, 18 May 1973. Pete a 24 year old Flying Leatherneck with only 425 jet hours in his logbook took off from MCAS Beaufort the morning of May 8 on his 1st flight as a new member of VMA-331. Flying alongside the XO the pair performed a perfect loop. They looped again, but this time Pete failed to pull out and started diving vertically. He radioed that he seemed to have a problem and was trying to correct it and those were his last word before his A4 slammed into the Atlantic. Arizona Republic, Friday, 30 May 1973. On the pull up I broke left, reversed, and saw him entering what appeared to be in a controlled near-vertical dive such as in the back side of a loop. Surprised that he had not rolled out on top of his Immelmann, I asked, something like, How you doing, two? I heard a garbled response about a spin. I saw no indication that he was in uncontrolled flight. I called for him to pull out at least twice. He did not respond. When he passed 10K I repeatedly called for him to eject. I lost him for a second in a low cloud and; then I saw the dye marker where he impacted the water. I can only surmise that he had a control or oxygen problem, or something happened in that maneuver that caused severe disorientation. Flight lead Dick Upchurch.
September 23, 1974: 1st Lt. David Leonard King, 26, (VMA-331, Beaufort) was killed Monday night when his A4 jet crashed in the desert 10 miles SE of Yuma on a bombing range. Arizona Republic, Wednesday, September 25, 1974. 1st Lt. David Leonard King, 26, (VMA-331) was killed Monday when his A4 Skyhawk (BuNo 158150) crashed on a night low level training mission near Yuma, AZ. Des Moines Register, Thursday, September 26, 1974. A/C impacted Rakish Litter at night under flares, spatial disorientation, no ejection attempt. Steve Richmond.
November 30, 1974: 1st Lt. Robert H. Dobrow from MCAS Beaufort ejected and was killed Saturday when his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 158188) crashed and exploded several miles west of Ariton, AL, near the Pike and Dale county lines while on a flight from Pensacola to Cherry Point, NC and then to Beaufort. Playground Daily News, Monday, December 2, 1974. 1st Lt. Robert H. Dobrow crash was caused by engine Failure (CSD), unsuccessful ejection attempt – seat pack hung up at seat/man separation, body found entangled in chute and shroud lines. From Steve Richmond. US Navy Accident Report (PDF File)
August 2, 1980: Capt. Charles Waters was killed while attending a WTI course at MAWTS-1. Capt. Waters was leading the final exercise flight into one of the targets east of Yuma. His first bomb run was a "No drop" for an unknown reason. His re-attack resulted in a too low pull out and he was fatally injured in the ground impact. From Bill Wehrung. VMA-331 A-4M BuNo 158415 was destroyed at Luke AFB after aircraft crashed into ground during weapons delivery, 02 August 1980. Pilot fatal. Naval Safety Center via Jim Winchester.
April 14, 1981: The date that shall go down in infamy. THAT was the date I (Capt Rodney “Pink” Panter) deep sixed BuNo 160250 after an engine failure. The engine failed during the climb passing ~15,000ft MSL after takeoff from runway 05 at Kadena AFB. And here is MY story:
It all began that day in VMA-331 Maintenance Control. While I was reading the maintenance history of the aircraft I noticed multiple write-ups for strange engine noise and vibrations. Whereupon I asked the MC Officer (CWO Wayne Paulson) in no uncertain terms what’s up (or WTF Over)? Wayne went on to say that several pilots had complained about the noises and vibrations, but maintenance could not identify any specific problem. BUT Wayne did go on to say that the (blade creep???) tolerances for acceptable limits had recently been relaxed by competent authorities??!! Soooo…I asked Wayne (several times) is the A/C up or down, and he said it was up to me whether I wanted to take it or not? When I pressed him for an Up or DOWN answer…..His final answer was UP. And being the MAN that I was, as well as a WELL SEASONED Marine Aviator, I therefore decided to SEE FOR MYSELF what’s up!?
1943:VMSB-331 Gunners - 1943. Tom Johnston (whose buddies have their arms across his shoulder) is top row, third from the left. The man seated behind the cowl was the head of the gunners, Frank Tackack.
1943: A Marine SBD-3 Dauntless - 1943. Marine Bombing Squadron THREE HUNDRED THIRTY-ONE SBD-3 Doodlebug "Speed-D-Bee" probably piloted by Captain Frank Wright with rear Gunner Tommy Johnston looking for something to bomb near the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific. This pair flew more than 150 combat sorties together in the Pacific war. Official Marine Corps Photograph from Elizabeth Johnston.
1954: VMA-331 "Bumblebee" Marine Corsairs. Flying over the McArthur causeway at Miami in 1954, either April 5th or 9th. Official Marine Corps Photograph. Photo "AD-5" Aircraft piloted by Captain Frank E. Sturges USMCR.
1954: VMA-331 Marine Corsairs. Flying a combat spread off the coast of Miami in 1954, either April 5th or 9th. Official Marine Corps Photograph. Photo "AD-5" Aircraft piloted by Captain Frank E. Sturges USMCR.
1954: VMA-331 "Bumblebee" Marine Corsairs. Flying a "V" formation off the coast of Miami in 1954, either April 5th or 9th. Official Marine Corps Photograph. Photo "AD-5" Aircraft piloted by Captain Frank E. Sturges USMCR.
1954: A four section Corsair Bumblebee flight off the coast of Puerto Rico during an exercise in l954. The maintenance guys deserve all the credit for getting sixteen planes into the air at one time! Official Marine Corps Photograph.
APR54: April 1954 -- The last active F-4U 'Corsair' leaves the Miami Opa-locka Marine Corps base. Col. Richard A. Beard Jr., Commanding Officer of Marine Air Group 31, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and other officers turned out to see pilot Lieutenant David Teichmann depart. Corsairs, once standard equipment for Marines and a familiar sight over Miami, now have been replaced by newer and faster jet planes.
Circa 1960: Last of the ADs in the Marine Corps. Ray Powell.
Circa 1962: A4D-2s in training. Ray Powell.
Circa 1962: Circa 1962: A4D-2s in training. Ray Powell.
Circa 1962: A4D-2s in training. Ray Powell.
MAY62: BuNo 142815, VL-13, parked on the ramp with JATO bottles and 18 250 pound bombs. Bob Mikesh.
1962: Skyhawk A-4B - 1962. A Bob Herrman photographic study of an A-4B Skyhawk taken October 12, 1962, flying toward the practice target off Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, prior to deploying to Guantanamo, Cuba for the missile crisis. Bob was later killed in an airshow crash in California.
1964: Skyhawk A-4E BuNo. 150095. Bob Herrman's photographic study of a November 4, 1964, section tactics flight off the USS Forrestal (CVA 59). The pilot of the VMA-331 Skyhawk was Lt. Donald E. Gough (later a TWA Captain) who, along with his wife were lost on TWA Flt 800.
1964: A-4E Skyhawks. Bob Herrman photographic study of a flight of four Skyhawks off the Forrestal on a high/low high practice strike mission into Spain in October of 1964.
JUN66: A-4E BuNo 150066 The VMA -331 pix is an A4E, part of Mag 31 in Beaufort. They were called the Bumblebees, and the rudders were painted yellow and black. This is the first squadron I was assigned to after getting my wings from Kingsville in June 66. My first CO was Dick Critz, followed by LCol Tucker, and then Paul Maginnis (moved up when Tucker died in the crash). Bill "Frog" McVey.
1965-66: BuNo.150089, 150138 and 151038 aboard the Forrestal in 65-66 Note: Squadrons embarked during Forrestal's CVW-8, deployment were VF-74, VF-103, VA-83, VA-81, VMA-331, VAH-11, VAW-12, VAW-33, VFP-62, AND HU-2. CVW-8 had a tail code of AJ. But there are two sets of tail-codes pictured. AA AJ. Photo by Tony Redman.
19 August 1967: VMA-331 Bumblebees A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 150090, VL-2. P/c is Cpl. W.D. Schultz Official U.S. Navy photo.
1968: VMA-331 Commanding Officer Lt.Col. Paul Maginnis dis-mounts from Skyhawk VL-02 of VMA-331. Col. Paul Maginnis USMC (Ret) via Jason Maisch.
JUL68: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 151072, VL-3, assigned to MAJ Silars as she taxies by the photographer. USAF MAC C-141A Starlifter s/n 64-0616 in the background. R.M. Hill.
Late 60s: VMA-331 151072, photographer & location unknown (could be MCAS Beaufort) Photographer unknown, from G. Verver.
1070:>Punch Out! Lt. Ken Heitel had a hook skip and when he added throttle he couldn't get a positive rate of climb. The Skyhawk settled slightly, and Ken punched out. Ken was picked up by the "Angel" without injury. This happened in the fall of 1970 on the USS Independence CVA-62. Photograph from the Naval Aviation News October 1970.
NOV72: Left front view of Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 158150, VL-3, parked on the flight line. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY74: May 1974 Bumblebees Skyhawks BuNo 158178, VL-12, and BuNo 158182, VL-19. Harry Gann.
SEP74: BuNo 158416, VL-22, on the flight line being serviced by the ground crew. Photo by Don Spering, G. Verver collection.
27FEB75: BuNo 158415, VL-2, as she leaves the deck of the Kennedy. U.S. Navy photo.
1976: VMA-331 BuNo 158185 undergoing maintenance at NS Roosevelt Roads, PR. Provided by Norman Patterson.
1976: Ground crew salutes BuNo158188 of VMA-331 as it taxies out. Provided by Norman Patterson.
1976: Line-up of VMA-331 A-4Ms at NS Roosevelt Roads, PR. Provided by Norman Patterson.
Flight of VMA-331 A-4Ms. Provided by Norman Patterson.
1976 BuNo 158185, VL-10. Harry Gann.
VMA-331 MAG-32 A-4M Skyhawks. Two A-4M Skyhawks, VL 00 BuNo 158167 and VL 17 BuNo 158151, on a Nevada gunnery range unloading their rockets. Photograph from Major Fred Miclon.
1977: VMA-331 Bumblebees A-4M Skyhawk BuNo 158180, VL-14. on the ramp with a pair of drop tanks. Photographer unknown.
1978: VMA-331 Snake-Eyes. In 1978, Douglas Tech. Rep. Harry Gann visited a VMA-331 Detachment training at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. The Bumble Bee detachment had come from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina for live weapons training. Harry hitched a ride in a TA Skyhawk to snap this impressive photograph of four Bumble Bee A-4M Skyhawks doing their thing. Photograph by Harry S. Gann.
DEC78: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 158415, VL-2, on on the MCAS Cherry Point flight line with a pair of drop tanks. Second shot of Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 158415, VL-2, on on the flight line with a pair of drop tanks. U.S. Navy photo, Sgt Cordova.
01DEC78: BuNo 158167, VL-00, sitting on the flight line. U.S. Navy photo, Sgt Cordova.
01MAY79: BuNo 160264, #2960 out of Long Beach. U.S. Navy photo, Cpl Burnett.
11MAY79: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160246, VL-6, waits to take-off as another Bumblebee A-4M prepares to land at Bogue Field. U.S. Navy photo, Cpl Burnett.
Sep 1979 BuNo 158180, VL-01, parked on the Pax River flight line. Name below the canopy rail is CO Lt Col "Dragon" Snedeker. Photo by S.H. Miller, G. Verver collection.
1979-81: VMA-331 160263, location unknown. Werner Munzenmaier collection.
Circa 1979: BuNo 160262, VL-000, parked on the flight line. Gary Verver Collection.
1979: The Last Skyhawk - BuNo. 160264 - 1979
APR80: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 158180, VL-01, parked on the line. Rob Mignard.
MAY80: assigned to Major Yassimini, parked on the ramp at the Crossroads of the Navy. Rob Mignard.
MAY80: BuNo 158180, VL-01, parked on the flight line. Note the plane captain checking the starboard intake. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY80: May 1980 BuNo 158185, VL-28, parked beneath the hangar "think" sign. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY80: VL-10, parked in the hangar. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY80: BuNo 160262, VL-000, parked in the hangar with a pair of drop tanks next to Bumblebee Skyhawk BuNo 159415. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY80: BuNo 160263, VL-3, parked in the hangar. Gary Verver Collection.
MAY80: MAY 1980: BuNo 160254, VL-4, assigned to Major Yassimini, parked on the ramp at the Crossroads of the Navy. Rob Mignard.
Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 158161, tail code VL, as she taxies by the photographer. Dr. C.A. "Sketch" Eddy.
25JUL81: 25 JUL 1981: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160243, VL-17, and BuNo 160246, VL-01 parked on the ramp. Dr. C.A. "Sketch" Eddy.
25JUL81: a href="/sites/default/files/images-buno-160241-160264/160243b2.jpg">Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160243, VL-17, parked on the ramp. Dr. C.A. "Sketch" Eddy.
25JUL81: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160243, VL-17, and BuNo 160246, VL-01 parked on the Kelly AFB ramp. Dr. C.A. "Sketch" Eddy
18AUG81: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160254, VL-14, as she taxies away from the photographer. Dr. C.A. "Sketch" Eddy.
1981: Bumblebees Skyhawk BuNo 160042, VL-6, parked on the ramp and painted in the lo-vis gray on gray scheme Unknown photographer via W. Mutza.
1981: A-4M Skyhawk BuNo. 160256. Bumblebee VL 6 checks his leader in VL 16, to taxi to the NAS Atsugi, Japan, runway on February 8, 1981. Color photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.
SEP81: Sept 1981 BuNo 160258, VL-18, parked on the NAS New Orleans flight line next to BuNo 160253. Photo R.E. Kling, Gary Verver Collection.
18APR82: 18 APR 1982: VMA-331 A-4M BuNo 160259, VL-2. Photo by R.R. Leader from Gary Verver Collection.
Undated: VMA-331 A-4M BuNo 158153 VL-15. Name below the canopy is LT RF Dietrich. From W. Munzenmaier.
JUN82: BuNo 158180, VL-302, parked on the flight line. Gary Verver Collection.
BuNo 160260, VL-00, parked on the flight line. Gary Verver Collection
No info yet.
A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit: