Marine Aircraft Group 39

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Marine Aircraft Group 39
MAG-39 insignia.png
MAG-39 insignia
ActiveApril 16, 1968 – present
CountryUnited States
AllegianceUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Marine Corps
TypeRotary-wing & Tilt-rotor aircraft group
RoleAssault Support
Close Air Support
Part of3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
I Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQMarine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
Nickname(s)America's MAG
Motto(s)"Mission, Marines, Machines, Motivation"
EngagementsVietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
* 2003 invasion of Iraq
Col William J. Bartolomea

Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG-39) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California that is currently composed of four AH-1Z "Viper" Cobra and UH-1Y "Venom" Huey light attack squadrons, two MV-22 Osprey squadrons, an aviation logistics squadron, a Headquarters Squadron, and the H-1 Fleet Replacement Squadron. The group falls under the command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF).

The unit is commanded by a US Marine Corps Colonel, and each subordinate unit is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. The Group is known as VENOM.


The mission of Marine Aircraft Group 39 is to provide utility helicopter support, close-in fire support, fire support coordination, aerial reconnaissance, observation and forward air control in aerial and ground escort operations during ship-to-shore movement and subsequent operations ashore.

Subordinate units[edit]

Lineage (1968–2015)[edit]

  • Activated 16 April at Quang Tri Airfield, Republic of Vietnam, as provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 and assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
  • Participated in the Vietnam War, April 1968 – October 1969, operating from Quang Tri.
  • Deactivated 31 October, 1969.
  • Reactivated 19 April, 1975 on board the USS Blue Ridge off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, as provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39.
  • Participated in the Southeast Asia evacuations, Republic of Vietnam, April 1975.
  • Deactivated 12 May, 1975.
  • Reactivated 1 September, 1978 at Camp Pendleton, California, as Marine Aircraft Group 39 and assigned to 3D Marine Aircraft Wing.
  • Elements participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Southeast Asia, August 1990 – April 1991.
  • Elements participated in Operation Restore Hope, Somalia, December 1992 – April 1993.
  • Elements participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, September 2001 – February 2002 and 2009–2015.
  • Deployed during February 2002 to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, March–October 2003.
  • Elements participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, 2004–2010.




Marine Aircraft Group 39 was activated on 16 April, 1968 in formal ceremonies at Quang Tri Airfield, Republic of Vietnam. Originally designated as Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39, the units colors were presented by Major General Norman J. Anderson, Commanding General, 1stMarine Aircraft Wing to Colonel John E. Hansen.

Located only a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 carried out its assigned tasks in Northern I Corps in support of the III Marine Amphibious Force. As a member of Marine air-ground team, Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 helped stop, disrupt, and destroy invading North Vietnamese Army units in numerous combat operations including Operations Scotland II, Lancaster I and II, Kentucky, Mameluke Thrust, and Jeb Stuart II.

During June and July 1968, the aircraft group conducted a successful evacuation of the Khe Sanh Combat Base and transported all supplies and equipment to Landing Zone Stud which became the replacement Combat Base for ProvMAG-39 aircraft.

Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 actively participated in Operation Meade River during the largest Marine heliborne assault of the Vietnam War. In January 1969, all of the group’s resources were directed to support Operation Dewey Canyon, one of the most successful actions in Northern I Corps.

During September–October 1969, ProvMAG-39 commenced support for the 3d Marine Division relocation from Vietnam. On 10 October 1969 the Group Headquarters redeployed to Phu Bia. The last day that ProvMAG-39 had control of tactical squadrons was the 15thof October. The unit was deactivated 7 November 1969. [2]

1970s and 1980s

On 19 April 1975 Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 was once again activated or duty in Southeast Asia. This time, however, the group was to take part in the largest helicopter evacuation ever attempted. Operation Frequent Wind, which saw the evacuations begin on 29 April, continue throughout the night, and terminate on 30 April, resulted in the evacuation of 7,000 American citizens, Vietnamese, and foreign Nationals. Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 remained on board in the South China Sea until the Fleet departed or the Philippines on May 2, 1975 and personnel concerned returned to their parent units.

Marine Aircraft Group 39 was reactivated 1 September 1978 at Camp Pendleton, California and assigned to the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, FMF Pac. [2]

Operation Desert Storm

Elements have participated in: Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to April 1991

Operation Restore Hope

Operation Restore Hope, Somalia from December 1992–April 1993

Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Inherent Resolve

Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kuwait from January 2003–October 2003

Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan from December 2001–June 2002

Unit Awards [1][edit]

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
U.S. Navy Presidential Unit Citation streamer.png Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with one Bronze Star 2003 Iraq War
Navy Unit Commendation streamer (USMC).svg Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with two Bronze Stars 1968, 1975, 1993 Vietnam War, Southeast Asia Evacuations
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy-Marine) Streamer.jpg Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with two Bronze Stars 1968–1969, 1986–1988 Vietnam
Streamer NDS.PNG National Defense Service Streamer with two Bronze Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Service Streamer with one Silver Star and one Bronze Star
Streamer SAS.PNG Afghanistan Campaign Streamer with one Bronze Star
Iraq Campaign streamer (USMC).svg Iraq Campaign Streamer with one Bronze Star
Streamer gwotE.PNG Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal streamer.png Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer
VGCP Streamer.jpg Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Streamer
Streamer RVMUCCA.PNG Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Actions Streamer

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. ^ a b " Marine Aircraft Group 39 Lineage and Honors", Historian Reference Branch, USMC History Division
  2. ^ a b "MAG-39 Short History to 1978", Historian Reference Branch, USMC History Division

External links[edit]