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Marine Fighting Squadron 213
VMF-213 Insignia
Country United States
Branch USMC
Type Fighter squadron
Role Air interdiction
Part of Inactive
Nickname(s) Hell Hawks
Tail Code EF
Engagements World War II
* Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
* Battle of Iwo Jima
* Battle of Okinawa
Aircraft flown
Fighter F4U Corsair
F9F Panther

Marine Fighting Squadron 213 (VMF-213) was a reserve fighter squadron in the United States Marine Corps. Nicknamed the "Hell Hawks", the squadron fought during World War II in the Philippines and at the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. With its assignment to the USS Essex (CV-9) and Air Group 4, VMF-213 along with VMF-124 was one of the first two Marine squadrons to augment carrier air groups during World War II.[1] The squadron was credited with downing 117 enemy aircraft during the war.


World War II[edit]

VMF-213 was formed July 1, 1942 at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii.[2] The squadron left MCAS Ewa on February 21, 1943 and arrived at Espiritu Santo on March 1, 1943. They received their first F4U Corsairs while at Espiritu on March 11, 1943 and after a brief stint training they moved to Guadalcanal in April 1943. On June 17, 1943, VMF-213 relieved VMF-124 in the Russell Islands. While in the Solomons, VMF-213 participated in actions against New Georgia and Kahali and flew throughout the Solomon Islands until December 1943. In mid-1943, VMF-213 harmonised the six .50 inch wing guns of their Mk I Vought F4U Corsairs to converge to a point 300 ft (90 m) ahead. The squadron's usual tactic was to dive upon an enemy from the front and slightly to one side (a high-side attack using full deflection) and fire when at the convergence distance.[3]

An F4U-1 Corsair of from VMF-213, warming up on the flight deck of the escort carrier USS Copahee (CV-12), on 29 March 1943.

The squadron returned to the United States for reorganization and training at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave, California. Their training was rigorous which can be seen by the daily record they set for Marine West Coast fighter squadrons in June 1944, when they flew 272.2 hours with the squadron's 21 aircraft averaging 13 hours each. With VMF-124, they departed the United States on September 18, 1944 on board the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) and USS Hancock (CV-19). After training at MCAS Ewa they met up with the USS Essex at Ulithi on December 9, 1943 and sailed west. While on board the Essex, as part of Task Force 58, VMF-213 along with VMF-124 participated in actions against Lingayen, Luzon, Formosa, Tokyo, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. During this time they became one of the first US military units ever involved in Vietnam when they struck at Japanese Tojos that had stopped at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to refuel on January 12, 1945.

Captain James N. Cupp was a double flying ace with VMF-213 in the Solomon Islands. From July to September 1943 he scored at least 12 aerial victories. He received the Navy Cross and three Distinguished Flying Crosses during his service with the Hell Hawks.[4][5]

Reserve years[edit]

A VMF-213 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in 1947.

Following the war the squadron was reactivated in the Marine Corps Reserve and based out of On June 9, 1956 a Grumman F9F-4 Panther from VMF-213 crashed into a row of houses near Wold-Chamberlain Field, striking the home at 5820 46th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to killing the pilot the crash killed five and injured twelve on the ground, most of whom were young children.[6]

Squadron Aces[edit]

Name Victories
James N. Cupp
Sheldon O. Hall
John L. Morgan Jr.
Wilbur J. Thomas
Edward O. Shaw
Milton N. Vedder
Gregory J. Weissenberger

Unit awards[edit]

Since the beginning of World War II, the United States military has honored various units for extraordinary heroism or outstanding non-combat service. This information is compiled by the United States Marine Corps History Division and is certified by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
A streamer with red, gold, and blue horizontal stripes with a bronze star in the center Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with one Bronze Star 3 – 22 Jan 1945,[7] 16 Feb – 1 Mar 1945 [7] Battle of Luzon,Battle of Iwo Jima
A gold streamer with smaller red and blue horizontal stripes and four bronze stars in the center Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer with four Bronze Stars 1943–1945 Consolidation of Solomon Islands, New Georgia Group Operation,Luzon Operation, Iwo Jima Operation, Okinawa Gunto Operation
A red streamer with horizontal rainbow stripes along the top and bottom World War II Victory Streamer 1942–1945 Pacific War
A red streamer with a horizontal gold stripe and three bronze stars in the center National Defense Service Streamer with two Bronze Stars 1951–1954, 1961–1974 Korean War, Vietnam War

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fredriksen, John C. (2011). The United States Marine Corps a Chronology, 1775 to the Present. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 175. ISBN 9781598845433. 
  2. ^ Gamble, Bruce (2012). Swashbucklers and Black Sheep a pictorial history of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II. Minneapolis, MN: MBI Pub. Co. and Zenith Press. p. 12. ISBN 9781610586900. 
  3. ^ Hammell, Eric (2010). Aces Against Japan. Pacifica Military History. p. 132. ISBN 1890988057. 
  4. ^ Craig, Berry (1989). Chronolog, 1912–1954. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. pp. 86–87. ISBN 0-938021-39-7. OCLC 21866886. 
  5. ^ Guttman, Jon (Oct 2005). "A Hell Hawk in the Pacific". World War II 20 (6): 50. ISSN 0898-4204. 
  6. ^ Yesterday’s News " Blog Archive " Saturday, 9 June 1956: 6 killed as jet hits house
  7. ^ a b "UNIT AWARDS FOR VMF 213". United States Navy. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  • Crowder, Michael J. (2000). United States Marine Corps Aviation Squadron Lineage, Insignia & History - Volume One - The Fighter Squadrons. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56311-926-9. 
  • De Chant, John A. (1947). Devilbirds. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. 
  • Rottman, Gordon L. U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle: Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939-1945. Greenwood Press, 2002. ISBN 0-313-31906-5.
  • Sherrod, Robert. History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press, 1952. ISBN 0-933852-58-4.
  • Tillman, Barrett. Corsair - The F4U in World War II and Korea. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1979. ISBN 9780870211317.