VMU-4

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Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 4
Active
  • 1 July 2010 – present

As VMO-4:

  • 20 December 1943 - 20 October 1945
  • 1 September 1962 - 31 March 1994
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Aerial reconnaissance
Role Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition
Size TBD
Part of MACG-48, 4th MAW
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
Nickname Evil Eyes
Tail Codes 7Y(1st)
5Y(2nd)
MU(3rd)
Aircraft flown
Multirole helicopter SH-34G/J Sea Bat
Reconnaissance OY-1 Grasshopper
OV-10 Bronco
RQ-7B Shadow

Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 4 (VMU-4) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron in the United States Marine Corps that operates the RQ-7B Shadow. It is the fourth UAV squadron in the Marine Corps and the first in the reserve component. The squadron, nicknamed the “Evil Eyes”, entered the force structure on July 1, 2010, when Marine Observation Squadron 4 (VMO-4) was reactivated and redesignated VMU-4.

The squadron inherited the history of VMO-4 which was an observation squadron that saw extensive action during World War II. They were last based at Naval Air Station Atlanta near Atlanta, Georgia and were deactivated on May 23, 1993 as part of the post-Cold War drawdown of forces. VMU-4 is a subordinate unit of Marine Air Control Group 48 and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Mission[edit]

Provide aerial fire support spotting and intelligence in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The squadron was originally activated as Artillery Spotting Division (Marine Observation Squadron 951) (ASD(VMO-951)) on December 20, 1943 at Marine Corps Air Station Quantico, Virginia.[1] This happened because the Marine Corps' field artillery school was located at Marine Corps Base Quantico.[2] Less than a month later they were redesignated as Marine Observation Squadron 4 (VMO-4) as they trained to fly the OY-1 Grasshopper. The squadron would later move to San Diego, California and the deploy overseas to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa in Hawaii for further training where they would be assigned to support the V Amphibious Corps. In April 1944 they were sent to Maui for duty with the 4th Marine Division and on May 29, 1944 they left Pearl Harbor for their first combat mission.[1]

The first two planes from VMO-4 landed on Charan-Kanoa airstrip during the Battle of Saipan on June 17, 1944 and began operating immediately.[1] Six days later all squadron gear and personnel were ashore and the squadron shifted operations to Aslito Field. During the battle they their mission was to conduct tactical reconnaissance for ground troops and direct artillery and naval gunfire strikes.[3] VMO-2 was the only other similar squadron to fly during the invasion of Saipan.[4] Two months later two planes from the squadron would assist their fellow Marines during the week-long Battle of Tinian. During these two battles, the squadron flew 400 sorties and suffered 2 pilots killed. One after he crash landing after getting hit by enemy fire and another over Tinian. The Ground echelon of the squadron suffered 3 dead and 9 wounded during an enemy air raid.[5] On August 10, 1944 the squadron set sail for Pearl Harbor to rest and refit.[1]

Old VMO-4 squadron insignia

VMO-4 personnel and gear remained in Hawaii until January 1945 when they set sail for Guam. While in Guam they received new aircraft and which were then flown to Saipan to be loaded upon escort carriers for movement to their next mission, the Battle of Iwo Jima. The squadron waited offshore to support Marines on the ground at Iwo until two planes from the USS Wake Island (CVE-65) were able to land at the airstrip on February 26, 1945. These were the first two aircraft to land on the newly captured airstrip and they did so while still under heavy small-arms and mortar fire. In time the mere presence of these small planes overhead would influence Japanese gunners to cease fire and button up against the inevitable counter-battery fire to follow. Often the pilots would undertake pre-dawn or dusk missions simply to extend this protective "umbrella" over the troops, risky flying given Iwo's unlit fields and constant enemy sniping from the adjacent hills.[6] During the battle the squadron would fly 204 sorties in 19 days totaling 366.4 hours of flying. This would leave Six of the seven planes used so badly damaged that they were scrapped afterwards.[7] After the battle they returned to Maui in April 1945 where they would remain until the end of the war.

Following the surrender of Japan, the squadron returned to San Diego, California where they were deactivated on October 21, 1945.

Cold war years[edit]

VMO-4 was reactivated on September 1, 1962 at Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan, from the personnel of HMR-761 and HMR-773, which had recently deactivated.[8] VMO-4 flew SH-34G/Js until 1968, when the squadron received its first OV-10As.

Two OV-10 Broncos from VMO-4 next to a TA-4J Skyhawk in 1990.

They would later relocate to Naval Air Station Atlanta during July 1976, until their decommission. The squadron was activated during the Gulf War time-period and become part of Marine Aircraft Group 29 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina however they did not deploy overseas. The squadron was deactivated on March 31, 1994 as part of the general drawdown of US forces following the Cold War.

Reactivation as VMU-4[edit]

The squadron was reactivated on July 1, 2010 and redesignated Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 4 (VMU-4). VMU-4 is a subordinate unit of Marine Air Control Group 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

VMU-4's first flight with the RQ-7B Shadow was 29 Sep 2010 in Yuma, AZ.

VMU-4 is now currently stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. They moved to Camp Pendleton officially on February 22, 2013.

Unit awards[edit]

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
Streamer PUC Navy.PNG Presidential Unit Citation Streamer 14 June-1 August 1944; 19-28 Feb 1945 Saipan; Iwo Jima (pilots and observers only)
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer

Navy Unit Commendation streamer.png Navy Unit Commendation Streamer 19–28 February 1945 Iwo Jima(ground echelon only)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy-Marine) Streamer.jpg Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star

Streamer APC.PNG Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer with two Bronze Stars
Saipan, Iwo Jima
Streamer WWII V.PNG World War II Victory Streamer 1941–1945 Pacific War
Streamer NDS.PNG National Defense Service Streamer 1990–1995 Gulf War

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sherrod (1952), p.453.
  2. ^ Shettle (2001), p.131.
  3. ^ Rottman (2002), p.406.
  4. ^ Chapin, John (1994). "Breaching the Marianas: The Battle for Saipan". Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Marine Corps Historical Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  5. ^ Sherrod (1952), p.252.
  6. ^ Alexander, Joseph H. (1994). "Closing in: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima". Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Marine Corps Historical Center. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  7. ^ Sherrod (1952), p.349.
  8. ^ VMO-4 CO letter to Historical Division, HQMC, 26 May 1963

References[edit]

Bibliography
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939 - 1945.’’. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31906-5. 
  • Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. OCLC 1261876. 
  • Shettle Jr., M. L. (2001). United States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II. Bowersville, Georgia: Schaertel Publishing Co. ISBN 0-9643388-2-3. 
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