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VMR-953 | Marine Transport Squadron Nine Hundred Fifty Three | Puss in Boots | Disney design


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VMR-953 | Marine Transport Squadron Nine Hundred Fifty Three | Puss in Boots Squadron | Disney design

 

Unit: VMR-953
Commissioned: 2.1.44
Date Deactivated: 5.31.47
Nickname of Unit: Puss in Boots Squadron
Name of Artist: Walt Disney Studios
Date of Insignia: 1944-1945
Authorization: HQMC
Aircraft: R5C-1

 

American embroidered on twill | Design by Walt Disney Studios

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R5C-1 displaying the squadron insignia.

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Once at its new Pacific base the squadron functioned as one of the Marine service and feeder lines to the combat areas. From last fall to early this year. "Puss-in-Boots" covered the whole Pacific area, carrying supplies, mail, and personnel in huge quantities to the fighting fronts and to isolated defense units. The squadron had outdone and outflown all other Marine transport units in the way of total ton miles flown, passenger miles. passengers carried and flying hours.

 

VMR officers with Curtiss R5C-1 c1944

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Curtiss R5C-1 | USMC

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Originated February 1st 1944 at Camp Kearney as VMJ-953. Transferred to Corvalis, Oregon on May 2nd 1944. Redesignated VMR-953 on July 17th 1944. Ground echelon arrived at Ewa, Hawaii on August 18th 1944. Flight echelon arrived September 30th 1944 and operations started with flights extending into Pacific combat areas including Leyte in December 1944 and Okinawa in May 1945.


This partial history of U.S. Marine Transport Squadron 953 takes place between the month of February, 1944 and the end of World War II in August, 1945. It all began with the commissioning at Camp Kearney, San Diego, of Marine Utility Squadron (VMJ) 953 on 1 February 44 as the primary operating section of Marine Air Group 15, at the time standing by to go overseas.

 

Upon its arrival at Corvallis the squadron 'consisted of sixty aircraft in all including R4D's, R5C's, one SBD, and six SNB's. During the period from 1 May 44 through 16 August 44 the program of training for flight and ground personnel, begun and pursued at Camp Kearney, was translated intact to Corvallis and followed faithfully. Gradually the R4D phase was reduced, and principal time and stress were placed on R5C operation and maintenance, until the entire training program was concentrated in this type of aircraft as the squadron intensified its inclusive preparation to go overseas. On 17 July 44 the designation of the squadron was changed to VMR-953, and from that date we officially became Marine Transport Squadron 953.

 

Following a month of internal reorganization, assemblage, and realignment, VMR-953 began its journey overseas with members of the entire ground echelon, Major Towner commanding, sailing from Seattle, bound for Hawaii on 18 August 44, arriving in Honolulu nine days later and settling immediately at MCAS Eva, Oahu. Meanwhile forty Marine officers and forty enlisted men remained in Corvallis as the flight section destined to ferry the RSC aircraft to Eva. The echelon. consisting at first of two airplanes. departed from NAAS Camp Kearney, in the evening of 18 August 44. One was piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Angstadt, the other by Captain James C. Magnus, USMCR, each carrying a co-pilot and one or two passengers, operations, engineering, and intelligence officers. By 30 September 44 a total complement of 16 R5C-l 's had reached Ewa. Planes were put into operation immediately upon arrival, and daily flights were initiated to multiple points, e.g. on Kauai, Maui, Molokai and the big island in the Hawaiian chain, including Midway.

 

During October the activities of the squadron increased substantially, The Midway run became a weekly affair, rotating among pilots, as did all flights. In addition, three weekly flights were made to Hilo, Hawaii, and other inter-island hops, with passengers and/or freight took place as requested by the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, Generally speaking, to the southwest, west, and southeast, with Ewa as center base of a projected Mercator hemisphere, extended flights were regularly scheduled and completed through the remainder of 1944. In October Lieutenant Colonel Angstadt piloted the first extended flight south, Taking off from Ewa on 1 October, he touched down variously at Johnston Island, Majuro, Kwajalein. Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan, landing on Peleliu shortly after that airstrip had been secured. Later that same month, Captain Magnus departed on another longish flight south, carrying Major General J. C. Fegen, USMC, and staff aboard on an inspection tour. Enroute they visited such points as Midway, Johnston, Palmyra, Canton, the Samoan Group, and Guadacanal. And on 27 October, five RSC's acted as weather observers and navigators for two flight echelons of SB2C's when VMSB-343 transferred location from Ewa to Midway Island, During the month of November 44, the squadron further increased and expanded its activity_ In addition to the regular local flights and the weekly run to Midway, extended roundtrips were made to Guam, Tinian, Peleliu, Saipan, KwaJalein, Eniwetok, Tarawa, Fujuro, Johnston, Palmyra, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Manus, The Russells, Biak, Emirau, and Australia. By the 25th of the month, over 100,000 pounds of cargo had been conveyed to various points by aircraft of VMR-953.

 

On 8 December transient aircraft began to operate regularly through the facilities of the squadron. In addition to regularly scheduled flights, which increased in frequency during December, extended flights increased in range, penetrating all forward Pacific areas, including the island of Leyte, and carrying more freight and personnel than in any previous H1onth. On 22 March the first VMR-953 aircraft landed at Manila. Late in May the first squadron plane made Okinawa with a priority load of radio and radar gear, and by the 29th five more 953 R5C's had landed there.

 

By the end of May and into June 45 all of VMR-953's aircraft were in commission and steady operation. Regular flights continued to Okinawa, via Iwo Jima along the way, and the Philippines. In addition to varieties of cargo and passengers, the squadron had all along served forward areas as occasional bomber escorts and by flying supplies and provisions in, wounded and POW's cut. On 23 July 45, in celebration of the squadron's having flown muiti-million cargo and passenger miles, an all-squadron formation was held at Ewa.

 

For more about the Puss in Boots character, see here.

 

Source

Millstein, Jeff. U. S. Marine Corps Aviation Unit Insignia 1941-1946. p 111.

Marine Corps Historical Center. VMR-953 Reunion.

 

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