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
Courtesy of Lynn Savage
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 and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico during the blockade of Cuba. 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.
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
August 18, 1967: Capt. Mike Donovan ejected to safety before his A-4E BuNo 150096 crashed in the Rustin, MS community 20 miles from Laurel, MS while on a training mission from MCAS Beaufort, SC. His wingman, Capt. Peter Erenfield, landed safely at Laurel, MS airport with instruments indicating low engine oil.
September 13, 1967: LCol. C.E. Tucker (CO) ejected and was killed while flying (BuNo 151195) 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.
From Lee Jackson
September 23, 1974
November 30, 1974: 1st Lt R. H. Dobrow ejected but was killed when his A-4M BuNo 158188 crashed and exploded west of Ariton, AL while on a flight from Pensacola to Cherry Point, NC and then to Beaufort.
1976: Provided by Norman Patterson
April 14, 1981
The date that shall go down in infamy was 14 Apr 1981. 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:
No info yet.
A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit: