Corsairs over Korea

VMF-214 SETS SAIL



We secured the aircraft with double tie downs as the ship made way for San Diego. Scuttlebutt said she set a new time for a CVE from Pearl to Diego. As the ship sped home we spent our time swapping sea stories and wondering where this latest crisis would take us.



March 1950

During the month of March 1950, VMF-214 pilots flew 3,136.6 hours, setting an all time record for a Marine squadron. Those hours were all syllabus training hours. We deployed to Naval Test Center at El Centro, California, for ordnance work. Other training included day and night cross country flight, "under the hood" instrument navigation training, and carrier duty. The Blacksheep squadron was dedicated to becoming the most proficient close air support squadron in the Marine Corps.

14-26 April 1950

VMF-214 deployed in USS Badoeng Strait CVE-116 for carrier quals.



16 June 1950

VMF-214 boarded USS Badoeng Strait at NAS Alameda, Oakland, California and sailed for Hawaii as a part of the annual Midshipmen’s Cruise.

25 June 1950

News of North Korean forces invading South Korea reached the Badoeng Strait as she was operating off Hawaii. VMF-214 aircraft were standing down at NAS, Barbers Point, while we were carrier qualifying aircraft from that base.

When the news of North Korean forces invading South Korea reached the USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116) she was operating off Hawaii. Decisions in Washington were made and orders moved down the chain. When Badoeng Strait received orders she entered Pearl Harbor and slowed but never stopped as she sailed around Ford Island, off-loading the midshipmen. Once Badoeng Strait cleared the harbor and was in deep water she turned into the wind and the Corsairs of VMF-214 landed aboard. We secured the aircraft with double tie downs as the ship made way for San Diego. Scuttlebut says she set a new time for a CVE from Pearl to Diego. As the ship sped home we spent our time swapping sea stories and wondering where this latest crisis would take us.

9 July 1950

The Badoeng Strait tied up at North Island, San Diego, late in the day. Before we finished off-loading it was getting dark. An R5D transport aircraft, piloted by Major "Stubby" Davis, was waiting for us. The fog was starting to come in so Captain Davis wanted to get off the deck before the field closed. Everybody turned to and as the last man cleared the ladder the R5D was rolling. Captain Davis cleared and took off for MCAS, El Toro.

The plane was still climbing when the crew chief came aft and passed the word that El Toro is socked in. March Air Force Base, near Riverside, California, was the designated alternate landing site. That was bad news to us. March Air Force Base is an hour and a half away from El Toro and even if the buses were there we would get home late that night.

Captain Davis knew VMF-214. He knew we were away from home a lot, he knew where we had been and what our future was to be. He had transported us many times in the past. He radioed El Toro that he was setting down at Mile Square twelve miles west of El Toro.

Mile Square is a one mile square auxiliary airfield used for training by squadrons from El Toro and MCAF, Santa Ana. It's used primarily for practice landings, field carrier landing practice (FCLP), and "touch and go." There are no emergency facilities there, except when operations are scheduled. Fire and crash crew units are sent there from El Toro.

Landing an R5D, a four engine transport, at Mile Square in the dark with patchy fog wasn't going to be easy. Captain Davis needed all the skills his years in transports, and in fighters aboard carriers, gave him. He said he wasn't about to put us down at March Air Force Base. "It would be hours before buses could come pick you up and I know how important every hour is. You don't have a lot of time."

We landed at Mile Square without mishap. It didn't take long for buses and trucks to arrive. Four unmarried men volunteered to stay with the plane. The crew chief said no. "It's my plane. I'll stay," he said.

The bus made a couple of stops in Santa Ana and Tustin, dropping off Marines near where they lived. When we arrived at the squadron area at El Toro just about all the wives were there waiting. The Duty NCO had called a couple of wives, they spread the word. Our CO, Lt Col. Walter E. Lischeid, and some of the officers were there to bring us up to date. "We'll be shipping out soon. All hands muster here at 0800."

We were at El Toro such a short time we could do little for our families. We completed and signed emergency data forms, power of attorney, and whatever other documents individuals needed. We hugged our kids, kissed our wives and went aboard the Badoeng Strait at North Island.

13 July 1950

We went aboard the USS Badoeng Strait at NAS North Island. Also aboard was VMF(N)-513, VMO-6, and VMF-323. VMF-323 had recently been decommissioned. Most of its personnel were still local so it didn't take long to put the squadron back on line. The aircraft for the squadrons had been lifted aboard and tied down. The "Bing Ding," (Badoeng Strait) was ready to sail and we were once more aboard our favorite home at sea. Across the way Marines of the First Provisional Marine Brigade (Reinf) were boarding ships for the journey across the Pacific. El Toro went all out for the families we left behind, helping them any way they could. Wives were issued "in lieu of orders" so that they could draw SMR (Special Money Requisition), ship household effects, and travel. I had family housing in the NaMar housing area outside the back gate. Our leaving was a permanent change of duty station that required giving up base housing.

14 July 1950: VMF-214 SAILS FOR KOREA AS PART OF THE FIRST MARINE PROVISIONAL BRIGADE (Renf)

We hugged our kids, kissed our wives and went aboard the Badoeng Strait at North Island.

At about 1030 hours USS Badoeng Strait put to sea, along with just about everything the Navy had that would float. During the next couple of days the convoy grew in size as other ships fell in line. The First Marine Provisional Brigade (Reinf) was moving west.

15 July 1950

San Diego and home is far behind us. I am homesick. I was Sergeant of the Guard 1600 to 2000. All plane captains secured their aircraft for foul weather.

16 July 1950

I stood Sergeant of the Guard 2400 to 0400. There is not a lot going on. Lots of scuttlebutt, all bad. To keep busy we clean our planes and detail inspect them. A roving fire watch patrols the hanger deck. Also one on the flight deck. The hanger deck is stacked full of aircraft. There's only a few on the flight deck.

We have a SSgt. name of Arcuni. Arcuni is a good Marine and a good man but he has some bad habits. He is a big man, about 6' 4" and well over 200 pounds, so he gets his way most of the time. This morning he was my relief as Sergeant of the Guard. I have heard that when you wake him you have to shake him and when you do he comes out swinging. A couple of the guys have been smacked pretty hard by him. Of course he is full of apology after he gives you a black eye. I made up my mind to get his attention for once and all. As you know its pretty crowded in a compartment so you don't have a lot of room to make a get away. Arcuni sleeps on the middle bunk so that puts him about waist high. I took a clip board with me and went to the compartment to get him up. Getting set as best I could I reached out and shook him hard. Sure as shooting out he comes. Just about the time his feet hit the deck I smacked him smartly square in his face with the flat of the clip board. He stopped cold and leaned back against his bunk. I went back to the pilot's ready room where the Sergeant of the Guard's post is. Right on schedule Arcuni shows up to relieve me. I was a little apprehensive as he came towards me, we being the only ones around. He walked up to the desk and with a big smile said, "I needed that." We remain good friends.

17 July 1950

Routine day at sea. We got our booster shots today. Still no word on where we are going. News from the ship's "Plan of the Day" is not good. The radio has nothing but bad news about the situation in Korea. Scuttlebutt says we're going direct to Korea.

A few days before we arrived at Kobe, Japan, a refueling operation was under way off the starboard side. The smaller ship came in too close and the two collided. There was damage to the Badoeng Strait. I don't know about the other ship.

29 July 1950

The days come and go in dull monotony at sea with nothing going on but scuttlebutt. Badoeng Strait, troop transport #111, and cargo transport #53, left the convoy and headed for Kobe, Japan. Scuttlebutt is the remainder of the convoy continued on to Pusan, Korea. I am wishing we get off this ship and go ashore in Korea to operate.

31 July 1950

Badoeng Strait entered Kobe harbor at about 2000 hours.. It was a sight to see. That great harbor, modern concrete piers with two and three levels. A ship can tie up and have gangways to the pier at each level. WW II bombing had destroyed much of the city up to a block or two from the harbor but had spared these excellent harbor facilities. It was a surprise to us when we learned we didn't have to handle gear ourselves, it was done by Japanese laborers. All we had to do was take care of our personal gear.

VMF-214 JOINS USS SICILY (CVE-118)

The USS Sicily CVE-118, an anti-submarine warfare carrier (ASW), Captain John S. Thatch commanding, was in Kobe. Captain Thatch was aware that Badoeng Strait would be delayed a few days for repairs. He requested that VMF-214 come aboard Sicily. She could sail for the war zone immediately. His request was granted. Badoeng Strait off-loaded the aircraft to be towed to an airfield close by. VMO-6 put on quite a show taking off from the dock heading for Korea.

1 August 1950

At about 1500 hours VMF-214 went aboard Sicily with 127 enlisted men. That included two Naval Aviation Pilots (NAP), MSgt. R.J. Mossman and TSgt. "Monk" Taylor and ten stewarts. About one hour later she sailed.



USS Sicily (CVE 118)



NEXT:
VMF-214 ENTERS THE KOREAN WAR


Return to
Corsairs over Korea
menu page