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Marine Attack Squadron 542


Marine Attack Squadron 542

VMA-542 History

Marine Attack Squadron 542 was initially commissioned as Marine Night Fighter Squadron (VMF(N)-542) on March 6, 1944, at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, NC. Upon commissioning, the squadron was assigned the F6F-3N "Hellcat". In the summer of 1944 the squadron was relocated to San Diego, CA in preparation for transfer to the Western Pacific war zone. Late in October, the squadron arrived at the newly created US Naval Base at Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands and immediately began flying combat air patrols.

Later in 1944, VMF(N)-542 deployed to the Western Pacific War Zone to engage in combat operations against Imperial Japan. By early April 1945, most of the squadron was positioned in Okinawa, Japan to take part in the campaign to seize the remainder of the island. Night operations against the enemy began on April 15th with missions being flown from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa. Second Lieutenant Arcenaux had the honor of being the first aviator to down an enemy warplane with a night fighter on April 16, 1945. While stationed at Yontan, the "Tigers" were credited with destroying eighteen Japanese airplanes and carrying out rocket attacks on the Ryukyu Island chain of Amami, O'Shima, Tokuno Shima, Kakai Shima, Miyako Shima, and Amami Gunto. For these actions the "Tigers" were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Between April and August 1945, Major Robert B. Porter and Captain Wallace E. Sigler became the first night fighter aces on Okinawa.

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