Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 (VMU-2) was originally formed in June 1984 as Detachment T, Target Acquisition Battery, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic, thus becoming the first Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) unit within the Marine Corps and the U.S. Armed Forces.
On 22 August 1984, the detachment reorganized and was re-designated, as the 1st Remotely Piloted Vehicle Platoon, Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division. During November 1984, Marines traveled to Israel and began indoctrination training on the Mastiff RPV system. Upon completion of contractor training, 1st RPV Platoon accepted its first two Mastiff air vehicles, control stations and associated ground support equipment.
In June 1986, 1st RPV Platoon was assigned to the 13th Marine Amphibious Unit and embarked aboard USS Tarawa for operations in the Western Pacific. In October 1986, the 1st RPV Platoon was reorganized and re-designated as the 2d Remotely Piloted Vehicle Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC while deployed with the 13th MAU. The unit returned to Camp Lejeune in November 1986 and on 4 May 1987, 2d RPV Company transitioned to the Pioneer (Option I) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. During May 1987, 2d RPV Company was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for its numerous contributions to the fielding of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles within the Marine Corps.
During the next three years, the 2d RPV Company trained on the Pioneer system and deployed within the continental United States in support of several Marine Corps exercises. In February 1989, RPV's were incorporated into the Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group (SRIG) concept as an independent company under the group command in March 1990 and the unit received the Pioneer Option II air vehicle. As the first UAV unit to field this upgrade, the company embarked aboard the USS Nassau and conducted the first shipboard trial operations of the Pioneer Option II air vehicle.
In August 1990, the 2d RPV Company was reassigned to the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and embarked to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield. The company remained embarked with the 4th MEB until November 1990. Thereafter, the company was ordered ashore and reassigned to the 1st Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. During this period, the company flew in support of Exercise Cruel Challenge. During January 1991, the company deployed to Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia in direct support of the 2d Marine Division and later relocated to Al Mishab to conduct missions in support of Operation Desert Storm. From 15 February to 3 March 1991, direct support of Operation Desert Storm was conducted from Al Qurah. 2d RPV Company began retrograde operations and returned to Camp Lejeune, NC on 20 March 1991. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 2d RPV Company flew a total of 69 sorties and 226 flight hours. Of these, 55 sorties and 192 flight hours were combat. No Pioneer air vehicles were lost as a result of enemy action.
During May 1991, a detachment from 2d RPV Company was formed to participate in Operation Provide Comfort and the Kurdish relief effort in northern Iraq. These Marines deployed utilizing the interim Close-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle called EXDRONE and provided surveillance information during the conduct of the operation. The detachment returned to Camp Lejeune, NC on 31 May 1991. For the remainder of 1991, the company provided support to various elements of II Marine Expeditionary Force.
On 1 January 1993, 2d Remotely Piloted Vehicle Company was re-designated as the 2d Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Company and in February 1994, the company was re-equipped with the Pioneer Option II Plus air vehicle. On 16 January 1996, 2d UAV Company was reorganized under Marine Aviation sponsorship and re-designated as Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 (VMU 2) Night Owls. Placed under Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, the Squadron was relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC in May 1996. Then, in August 2000, VMU-2 was re-assigned to Marine Air Control Group 28, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.
VMU-2 deployed to Kuwait in February 2003 and subsequently played a key role in Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. Conducting day and night aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition missions in support of coalition forces in the Persian Gulf region, the Squadron was deployed for seven months in support of combat operations. Of the 30 squadrons, 200 aircraft and more than 7000 Marines and Sailors from 2D MAW to conduct combat operations in Iraq, VMU-2 was the final unit to return from Iraq in September 2003.
In February 2004, the Squadron deployed to Al Taqqadum Airbase, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) II, conducting combat missions in support of coalition forces in the Sunni Triangle region. In August 2004 the Squadron returned to MCAS Cherry Point.
VMU-2 has deployed four times between 2005 and 2008. OIF 05-07, 06-08, 08.1 and 08.2 marked the Squadrons continued support of the mission in Iraq, supporting troops on the ground. During OIF 05-07, the Night Owls expanded their mission when they were tasked to fly missions utilizing both the Pioneer UAS along with the ScanEagle UAS. As VMU-2s deployment to OIF 06-08 drew to a close, they flew the last Pioneer UAS combat mission on October 9th 2007.
In January 2008, VMU-2 transitioned from the RQ-2B Pioneer to the RQ-7B Shadow. Transition training occurred at MCAS Cherry Point during their five month dwell time. In April 2008, VMU-2 deployed to Iraq for its first operational deployment with the Shadow system, the Marine Corps newest UAS, while continuing to provide support with ScanEagle UAS missions across the Al Anbar Province.
In 2009 VMU-2 deployed both Shadow RQ-7B and ScanEagle detachments to Afghanistan in support of the 2nd MEB for Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as a ScanEagle detachment in Iraq to support OIF 09.1
Unit decorations include the following: Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation the National Defense Service Streamer with bronze star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer, the Southwest Asia Campaign Streamer with two bronze stars, Iraq Campaign Streamer with three bronze stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer, Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer.