VMA-211 Wake Island Avengers Patch– Plastic Backing
Marine Attack Squadron 211 began its illustrious history as VF Squadron 4M on January 1, 1937. The Squadron adopted the plunging lion as its insignia a few months later, “because the swift and destructive rush of the King of east well represents the attack of a Fighting Squadron”. In January 1941, the Squadron moved to Ewa, Hawaii and was redesigned VMF-211 while transitioning to Grumman F4F Wildcats.
On November 28, 1941, VMF-211 flew 12 Wildcats aboard the USS Enterprise for movement to Wake Island. On 8 December, the Japanese attacked destroying 7 aircraft on the ground. In the next two weeks the remaining 5 planes repelled numerous attacks and inflicted great losses on the enemy. The rear echelon was subsequently transferred to Palmyra Atoll in the South Pacific and adopted the name “Avengers” in the memory of those Squadron members who were killed or captured.
Flying the F-4U Corsair during the rest of the war, VMF-211 participated in the Treasury-Bougainville, Bismarck, Northern Solomon, Leyte and Southern Philippine campaigns. After World War II, VMF-211 participated in the occupation of China and returned to Edenton, NC in 1949. While operating on-board the USS Coral Sea in 1952, the Squadron was redesignated VMA-211.
In 1957, the Squadron received its first A-4 Skyhawks and subsequently moved to El Toro, California. With escalation of the Vietnam War, VMA-211 moved to Japan in 1965 and commenced the first of four deployments to the Republic of Vietnam. In August 1976, the Squadron returned to El Toro, where it replaced its aging A-4E’s with A-4M. The year 1987 marked two significant events for the Squadron: fifty years as an operational squadron and thirty years flying the A-4.
On December 10, 1987, after a unit deployment to the western Pacific, VMA-211 relocated to Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona to become a part of Marine Aircraft Group 13.
On May 16, 1990, the first AV-8B Night Attack Harrier was received replacing the venerable A-4M. On June 4, 1990, VMA-211 commenced daily AV8B flight operations.
During Operation Desert Storm, VMA-211 was called upon to provide pilots and enlisted personnel to augment the squadrons that were deployed in South West Asia. Support for these squadrons was provided in the form of aircraft parts and supplies.
On May 28, 1992, a detachment from VMA-211 embarked on the first AV-8B Night Attack deployment overseas. Aboard the USS Tarawa, Det A consisted of 6 Night Attack Harriers, 9 pilots, and a crew of enlisted personnel. VMA-211 Det A was also the first to land AV-8B Night attack Aircraft aboard an LPD, the USS Ogden.
On May 28, 1993, VMA-211 ferried 20 Harriers to Iwakuni, Japan for a six-month unit deployment. Upon arrival, Det A proceeded to Okinawa to join the 31st MEU. During this period, the Avengers participated in numerous operations as well as deploying to Kadena, AB, Okinawa, Japan. On 10 November, the Avengers returned to MCAS Yuma, Arizona.
VMA-211 returned to WestPac on 8 November 1994, with 20 AV-8Bs. While deployed, the Squadron (-) participated in deployments to Ie Shima Expeditionary Air Field, Osan AB, Republic of Korea, Kadena AB, and Misawa AB, Japan. Det A joined HMM-262 (Rein) during February 1995. The Avengers returned from WestPac in May 1996.
In October 1996, the Squadron saw the departure of Det A for a long awaited 11th MEU deployment aboard the USS Essex. The Det took on extremely diversified missions to include Joint/Command Exercise in Kuwait, Oman, Qater, and Australia and returned in April 1997.
The Squadron used the remainder of 1997 to prepare for an upcoming 11th MEU deployment by deploying to Nellis AFB, Nevada and 29 Palms, California.
In February 1998, the Squadron once again saw the departure of Det A aboard USS Tarawa for deployment with the 11th MEU. The Avengers, Det A deployed to the Persian Gulf to fly missions form Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch.
In June 1999, the Avengers Det A deployed to Okinawa, Japan to participate with the 31st MEU and in February 2000, returned from deployment.
The Avengers received the Marine Corps Aviation Association “Attack Squadron of the Year” 1984, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2006 and the CNO Safety Award 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2013.
With the attacks on the U.S. in September 2001, the Avengers immediately deployed a six plane detachment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. One month later, VMA-211 Squadron (-) found itself deployed to WestPac in support of the 31st MEU. In June 2002, both Det A and the Squadron (-) returned to Yuma and immediately began preparations for supporting 31st MEU in January 2003.
In January 2003, the 31st MEU was cancelled and the Avengers were ordered to embark on-board the USS Bonhomme-Richard and sailed to the North Arabian Gulf. The Avengers conducted combat operations in support of OPERATIONS SOUTHERN WATCH and IRAQI FREEDOM from March to May 2003. A Trans-Atlantic flight brought the Avengers home to Yuma in mid-May to begin preparations to support the first of three back to back MEU detachments beginning December 2003. In July 2004, a 100 percent personnel turnover replaced Det A, 31st MEU in Iwakuni, Japan which subsequently participated in combat operations in support of IRAQI FREEDOM II.
In July 2005, the Avengers returned to Al Asad Airbase, Iraq with the 13th MEU, conducted combat operations in support of IRAQI FREEDOM 04-6.2, and returned to Yuma in February 2006.
In September 2006, the Avengers deployed to the Al Anbar Province, Al Asad, Iraq in support of IRAQI FREEDOM 05-7.2 and 06-8.1 During 206 days of sustained combat operations, the Avengers flew in excess of 2700 missions and 5200 flight hours in support of I MEF and II MEF.
In April 2012, the Avengers deployed to Kandahar Air Base and Camp Bastion Afghanistan in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM 12.1. On the evening of 14 September, 2012 Camp Bastion came under attack. The Avengers, lead by their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Raible, coordinated a counter attack and repelled the assault. Despite suffering the loss of their commander and several AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, the Avengers served their entire deployment, flew 1,681 combat sorties for a total of 5,096.0 flight hours and personified the old adage, “Every Marine is a Rifleman”.
The Avengers have earned many honors for their achievements including the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with three bronze stars, the Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with one silver star and one bronze star, the Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer, the Marine Corps Campaign Streamer with one silver star and three bronze stars, the World War II Victory Streamer, the National Defense Service Streamer with two bronze stars, the Vietnam Service Streamer with two silver stars and two bronze, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation of the Gallantry Cross with Palm.