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Marine Corps Aviation History  

A chronicle of highlights in the history of Marine Corps aviation and Marine aviators, from the Archives Branch of the Marine Corps History Division.
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

World War II Print Page

Air Power

Air power is, above all, a psychological weapon--and only the short-sighted soldiers, too battle-minded, underrate the importance of psychological factors in war.
~B. H. Liddell Hart



These books are available at the Library of the Marine Corps for registered patrons. Check with your local public or academic library for availability of these titles.

Cover Art
Semper Fi in the Sky - Gerald Astor
Call Number: D790 .A974 2005
ISBN: 0891418776
Presents true stories of the experiences of U.S. Marine pilots during World War II as they recall Pacific air battles including Wake Island, Midway, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, and Guadalcanal.

Fighter Squadron at Guadalcanal - Max Brand
Call Number: D790 .B65 1996
ISBN: 1557500886
Aerial operations and personal narratives of the 212th Marine Fighter Squadron.

Cover Art
Black Sheep - John F. Wukovits
Call Number: D790.473 214th .W85 2011
ISBN: 1591149770
Biography of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, World War II fighting ace and commanding officer of VMF-214 "The Black Sheep Squadron."


Yamamoto Raid: April 18, 1943


MajGen John P. Condon

Condon was awarded the Legion of Merit and Gold Star in Lieu of Second Award of Legion of Merit, for exception service as "Commanding Officer of the Fighter Command, Air North Solomon Islands, in the Cape Torokina Area, Bougainville, Solomon Islands..."


He later authored the books U.S. Marine Aviation in Korea: Corsairs to Panthers,  Corsairs and Flattops: Marine carrier air warfare, 1944-1945, and U.S. Marine Corps Aviation, volume 5 of the series 75th Year of Naval Aviation; Diamond Anniversary.


MajGen Condon was the Flight Command Operations Officer during the "Yamamoto Raid," (a/k/a Operation Vengeance) during which American P-38s successfully intercepted and shot down the plane carrying Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and two Rear Admirals of the Japanese fleet, severly damaging the enemy's morale. The 1943 victory not without some controversy, including claims of leaked intelligence and controversy over which pilot actually deserved the credit for downing the enemy bomber.


Close Air Support

In this interview, Lt. General Philip D. Shutler (USMC Ret) and other Marines talk about the development of close air support tactics and how General Keith McCutcheon introduced new ideas in air/ground cooperation into Marine aviation after World War II.



Maj Henry Talmadge Elrod: Medal of Honor Recipient

"He arrived at Wake Island a short time before the hostilities commenced and was one of the twelve pilots who flew the Marine planes onto the island... On the 12th of December he single-handedly attacked a flight of 22 enemy planes and shot down two. On several flights he executed low altitude bombing and strafing runs on enemy ships, and became the first man to sink a major warship with small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft.

When his plane was destroyed by hostile fire he organized a unit of ground troops into a beach defense and repulsed repeated Japanese attacks until he fell mortally wounded. Capt Elrod was killed in action defending Wake Island against the invading Japanese on 23 December 1941."

~Excerpt from Official Marine Corps bio.

Major Henry Talmadge Elrod earned the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in defense of Wake Island in December 1941. Read his Official Marine Corps bio.


Gen Roy S. "Jiggs" Geiger

General Roy S. "Jiggs" Geiger was a pioneer Marine Aviator. He commanded a squadron of the First Marine Aviation Force in World War I and was a squadrom commander with the Marine Aviation Force in Haiti.

During World War II he distiguished himself first as the commander of the 1st Marine Aicraft Wing in defense of Guadalcanal, and for extraordinary heroism in this capacity as well as commander of all aircraft, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.

Called to Headquarters Marine Corps to become the Director of Aviation in May 1943, he was eventually recalled to the field in November 1943 to command ground troops with the 1st Amphibious Corps (later renamed 3d Amphibious Corps).

Upon the death of the Commanding General of the Tenth Army, Geiger assumed command and became the first Marine to lead an Army, which he led to the successful conclusion of the war's last campaign, the capture of Okinawa.

Read his Official Marine Corps bio.


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