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A chronicle of highlights in the history of Marine Corps aviation and Marine aviators, from the Library of the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections Branch.
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Marine Aviation Then

The Marine Corps' First Aircraft - and Second Marine Aviator: Bernard L. Smith.

Read more about Smith and the early years of Marine aviation.


    Five People You Should Know

    Five people you should know when talking about Marine Corps aviation - they were the "first" to do what they did:


      100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation


      This year Marine Aviation celebrates 100 years of service.  This research guide is designed to guide you through the rich history of the Corps' air service using select archival resources held by the Archives and Special Collections Branch, as well as select other military, scholarly, and public resources concerning Marine Corps aviation and aviation Marines, and their place within Marine Corps and aviation history.

      Resources at the Library of the Marine Corps and the Archives and Special Collections Branch on Marine Corps aviation include, but are not limited to: articles, audio-visual materials, books, correspondence, maps, oral history interviews, photographs, and platoon books.

      The resources featured in this guide do not represent a complete list, and the guide will grow with time. Please contact the Archives and Special Collections Branch to inquire about additional resources in its holdings, as well as those held by other institutions.



      Five Documents You Should Read

      Five important documents in the history of Marine Corps aviation.

      • Value of Aviation to the Marine Corps by Alfred A. Cunningham
        In this article the Corps’ first pilot lays out the principles justifying Marine Corps aviation, which became the foundation of how the Marine Corps views and employs aviation to the present day. Originally published in The Marine Corps Gazette, vol. V no. 3, September, 1920.
      • Close Support Aviation by Lt Col Keith B. McCutcheon
        The principles captured in this doctrine developed for use by MAG-24 and MAG-32 in the Philippines during World War II remain at the heart of Marine close air support doctrine today.
      • Amphibious Operations Employment of Helicopters (PHIB-31)
        Viewing the Marine helicopters essentially as aerial landing craft, this first doctrine on the employment of helicopters laid the foundation for the MAGTF and made it possible for the Corps to move toward true integration of its air and ground arms.
      • Marine Corps Small Wars Manual: Chapter 9 - Aviation
        Drawing on Marine Corps experiences in the Banana Wars, this document brings together for the first time in doctrinal form the collective lessons learned about the employment of Marine aviation in small wars.
      • Ralph Talbot's Letter to his Mother dated 28 April 1918
        This letter, written by the first Marine aviator to earn the Medal of Honor, discusses his reasons for transferring to Marine aviation, including what in his mind makes Marine aviation unique.

      Marine Aviation Now

      2011: General James F. Amos becomes the first aviator appointed Commandant of the Marine Corps.

      Contact USMC Aviation Archivist

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      USMC Aviation Archives

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      Archives and Special Collections Branch
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