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VMB-2 | VMSB-232 | VMTB-232 | Red Devils


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VMB-2 | VMSB-232 | VMTB-232 | Red Devils


On 1 July 1937, the unit was redesignated as Marine Bombing Squadron 2 (VMB-2). On 11 January 1941, in response to the ever-mounting tension in the Pacific, the squadron moved from NAS San Diego to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii, on board the USS Enterprise (CV 6). On 21 January, VMB-2—with 21 officers, 116 enlisted men, and 20 Dauntless scout bombers—arrived in Hawaii and was assigned to the 2d Marine Aircraft Group (MAG-2), Fleet Marine Force. The unit immediately began flight operations as part of the islands’ defensive air patrol system. On 1 July 1941, the squadron was redesignated Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232 (VMSB-232) and on 1 August the 2d Marine Aircraft Group became Marine Aircraft Group 21, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.



VF-3M established on September 1, 1925
VF-3M redesignated VF-10M on June 25, 1927
VF-10M redesignated VF-6M on July 1, 1928
VF-6M redesignated VF-10M on July 1, 1930
VF-10M redesignated VB-4M on July 1, 1933
VB-4M redesignated VMB-2 on July 1, 1937
VMB-2 redesignated VMSB-232 on July 1, 1941
VMSB-232 redesignated VMTB-232 on June 1, 1943
VMTB-232 deactivated on November 16, 1945

Reactivated: 9.18.50, changed to VMF(AW) 1 Mar 1965, to VMFA 8 Sep 1967, still active.


Nickname of Unit: Red Devils

Date of Insignia: Winged devil insignia painted on aircraft-1920's; Running Red Devil 1941-1945; Devil Riding A Torpedo insignia-1943


Authorization: Red Devil insignia - HQMC; Devil Riding A Torpedo insignia-local use


Aircraft (WWII): SBD-2, SBD-3, TBF-1, TBM-1, TBM-3, TBM-3E


The insigne of VMSB/VMTB dates back to the 1920's when the Red Devil was a 'Winged Devil" on the aircraft of VF-10M stationed in Tientsin, China. Through time the wings on the Devil evolved to a cape flowing behind a running Red Devil. For a short time in 1943, while the squadron flew combat from Guadalcanal and Munda, the Devil rode a torpedo. This design was painted on flight jackets by Lt. Philip St. George-Fields. After 1943 the design reverted to the "Running Red Devil".


VMB-2 | VMSB-232 | VMTB-232









Flying Devil Riding a Torpedo painted on the field jacket of pilot George Stamets. The design was designed and painted on field jackets and flight gear by Lt. Philip St. George Fields while the squadron was flying from Guadalcanal and Mundal.





On July 1, 1937, Marine aviation was completely reorganized to conform to Navy requirements, and VB-4M became VMB-2. Still flying the BG-1, the squadron continued to take part in the annual Fleet Exercises, and in December 1940, the squadron began receiving the new Douglas SBD-1, the first mono-plane in Marine Corps service. With the tension in the Pacific increasing, VMB-2 was deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii. Early 1941 also saw the transition from the colorful pre-war scheme to the tactical, and less colorful, light gray scheme, but still the Red Devil insignia was absent. On July 1, 1941, in anticipation of the large expansion marine aviation was about to undergo, VMB-2 became VMSB-232, the designation it carried during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during which one member of the squadron was killed and nine of the squadron's aircraft were destroyed, with ten more requiring major overhaul. On Wake Island, a Red Devil detachment suffered twenty five enlisted Marines killed or captured while assisting in the defense of the doomed island.


On August 20, 1942, the squadron became part of the Cactus Air Force. and flew SBD Dauntlesses from Guadalcanal's 3,000-foot dirt runway Henderson Field. The Red Devils became the first Marine dive bomber squadron to fly against the Japanese. They left Guadalcanal on October 12, 1942, and headed for Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California, where they were redesignated yet again as Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 232 (VMTB-232), flying newly acquired Grumman TBF Avengers. They returned to the Pacific in July 1943 when they were originally based in Espiritu Santo. From there they moved to Munda in order to support allied forces during the Bougainville landings in November 1943.


For the next few months the squadron participated in strikes against the isolated Japanese garrison at Rabaul. On February 14, 1944, Avengers from VMTB-232 and VMTB-233 took part in a mission to sow mines in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul. The Grumman TBM Avengers were to fly up in three groups of eight each at the speed of 160 knots to drop their parachute-mines, weighing 1,600 pounds a piece. The first group lost one plane. The commanding officer tried to radio the other TBFs to warn them to turn back but he couldn't make radio contact. The second group lost two planes. The third group was immediately found by searchlight and antiaircraft guns while flying at 800 feet over the water and had five aircraft shot down. Six planes and eighteen men were lost during the attack. Four of the eighteen men survived the loss of the six TBFs that evening. Of the four, none survived captivity. One was murdered at Tunnel Hill, two died of starvation, disease or medical neglect, and a fourth was murdered by the Japanese Navy some time in April.


The next few months would see them move continuously, operating from Piva, Green Island, Emirau and Ulithi. VMTB-232 landed at Kadena on April 22, 1945, and began flying close air support missions three days later and for the rest of the Battle of Okinawa.


In July 1945 they began to fly strikes against the Japanese mainland until the surrender of Japan.[9] During its participation in operations throughout World War II, VMTB-232 lost forty-nine Marines and seventeen aircraft. On November 16, 1945, the squadron, one of the few to earn two presidential citations during the war, arrived at San Diego, and was temporarily decommissioned.










Millstein, Jeff. U. S. Marine Corps Aviation Unit Insignia 1941-1946. p 60.





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