Past, present, future, 2nd MAW marks 73 years of aviation excellence
By Sgt. Timothy Parish
| Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point | July 07, 2014
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
July 10, 2014, marks the 73rd birthday of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, a 73 year tradition of Marines and sailors supporting the Fleet Marine Forces. The Marines and sailors of 2nd MAW are always ready to answer the nation’s call, an advocate for freedom from the coast of the Carolinas.
From its inception, authorized by congressional act during the simmering days before the United States joined World War II, 2nd MAW activated as Marine Air Group Two in San Diego. The initial squadrons, more than 60, helped begin the offensive against the Empire of Japan at Wake Island; they supported Marine amphibious landings from the east to west and south to north, sweeping across the Pacific in F4U Corsairs, F6F Hellcats, TBF Avengers and launched from countless U.S. Navy vessels. The aerial armada, stretching thousands of miles and island hopping from Guadalcanal and Midway to Tinian and Okinawa, ran the gauntlet through nearly four years of bloody combat to beat back the tide of imperialism and oppression while Marines below overtook island after fortified island.
From 1941 through August 1945, 2nd MAW helped establish the concept of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The Marines in the sky seldom saw the enemy below, only the results of their precision fires coordinated by Marines on the ground. It was the archetype of what has evolved and it is the blueprint for today’s global-ready MAGTF.
Veteran World War II pilots and crews accustomed to the hardships of expeditionary warfare returned home from the Pacific, taking root at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., after 2nd MAW established headquarters here in 1946. The Marines and Sailors of the wing developed a routine of refining the principles of modern air-to-ground combat efficiency in the years following WWII, training Marine pilots and aircrew service over the Korean Peninsula.
The training at Cherry Point proved the hard lessons of World War II and the concepts of Marine Corps maneuver warfare. The mass of men and machines that helped secure the Pacific were a living example of the close partnership between Marine pilots in the air and infantrymen on the ground. This model, the concepts of dynamic warfighting, helped form the basis of doctrine passed on to pilots and crew during the Korean War to support the Marine divisions fighting at the Frozen Chosin and Pusan Perimeter.
Though never assuming command of the airspace during the Korean War or Vietnam, 2nd MAW played a vital role in preparing pilots and aircrew for service in the skies during both conflicts. The Marines who trained in the skies over eastern North Carolina took the spirit of the wing’s motto, “Second to None,” into battle, helping turn back the tide of Communism during the turbulent years between 1950 and the mid-1970s. Thousands of flying leathernecks passed through Cherry Point during those years, learning the tools of their trade and honing their skills before going overseas. The changing platforms of Marine air power marked a passage from propellers and leather helmets to jet engines and precision-guided bombs. The changing technologies helped prepare 2nd MAW for an advanced age of expeditionary warfare and a role tailor-made for Marine aviation.
The jet age arrived on the heels of WWII, grew into adolescence during Korea, and even more robust through the ensuing years.
After Vietnam, Marine aviation epitomized the cutting edge of America’s tip of the spear. 2nd MAW, indeed all Marine aviation, evolved and grew into an unmatched aerial juggernaut, able to project “shock and awe” from either land or sea to anywhere in the world in a matter of days, if not hours. The well-oiled machine, fueled by a modern, professional all-volunteer force of Marines, provided the requisite firepower to overwhelm America’s enemies during the Gulf War in the early 1990s and, a decade later, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While technology has changed the conduct of warfare and the capabilities 2nd MAW brings to the fight, the wing stands ready, whether aboard a Dock Landing Ship in support of a Marine Expeditionary Unit or covering the skies as part of a Special MAGTF. The wing brings a vast array of capabilities to the nation’s forces, whether dropping Joint Direct Attack Munitions from an FA-18 over Fallujah or delivering food and water with the MV-22B Osprey during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. No matter where or when, no matter the clime or place, no matter the cost or sacrifice, the Marines and Sailors of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing stand ready to answer threats to American interests and provide relief for the world’s oppressed. They stand ready for employment across the globe as part of America’s 9-1-1 force, a lineage 73-years in the making.