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VMA-533 Nighthawks

VMA-533 Nighthawks


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DEC, 1944 from John Gabbard

Drawn by Bud Southworth
Patch
  • First patch from December 1, 1944 National Geographic Society magazine
  • "IN HOC SIGNO VINCES" is a Latin phrase meaning "in this sign you shall conquer."

Handle
  • Black Mac's Killers (Call Sign "Scrappers")
  • Nighthawks

Heritage
  • 01 OCT 1943:- - Marine Night Fighter Squadron 533 (VMF(N)-533) established at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
  • MAY 1953: - - - Marine Night Fighter Squadron 533 was redesignated Marine Fighter Squadron 533 (VMF-533).
  • 1959: - - - - - Redesignated Marine Attack Squadron VMA-533.
  • DEC 1965: - - - Redesignated Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 533 (VMA(AW)-533).
  • SEP 1992: - - - VMA(AW)-533 was redesignated Marine All Weather Strike Fighter Squadron 533 (VMFA(AW)-533).

Home Ports
  • 01 OCT 1944: Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
  • 07 DEC 1992: MCAS Beaufort

Air Wings
  • 1960-64: Tail Code = ED

Deployments
  • 10 MAY 1945 to OCT 1945: - - - MAG-31 - Grumman F6F-3N Hellcats - Yontan Airfield, Okinawa
  • OCT 1945 to JAN 1947:- - - - - MAG-24 - Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat - Peiping, China
  • 195x:- - - - - - - - - - - - - USS Bennington
  • 195x:- - - - - - - - - - - - - USS Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • 195x:- - - - - - - - - - - - - USS Saratoga
  • APR 1967 to October 5, 1969: - MAW-1 - - Grumman A-6A Intruder - - Chu Lai, Vietnam

Aircraft
A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to VMA-533

Commanding Officers
  • 01 OCT 1943 to 07 JUL 1945: Lt.Col. Marion M. Magruder
  • 08 JUL 1945 to 16 AUG 1945: Major Samuel B. Folsom, Jr.
  • 17 AUG 1945 to 26 MAY 1946: Major Robert P. Keller
  • 27 MAY 1946 to 04 SEP 1946: Major Jack C. Scott
  • 05 sEP 1946 to 10 MAY 1948: Lt.Col. Alfred N. Gordon
  • 11 MAY 1948 to 03 MAY 1949: Major Robert F. Flaherty
  • 04 MAY 1949 to 04 JUL 1950: Major Boyd C. McElhany, Jr.
  • 05 JUL 1950 to 25 JUN 1951: Lt.Col. John R. Bohnet
  • 26 JUN 1951 to 02 JAN 1952: Lt.Col. Harold G. Schlendering
  • 08 JAN 1952 to 11 FEB 1952: Major Gordon E. Gray
  • 12 FEB 1952 to 02 APR 1953: Major Richard W. Batdorff
  • 03 APR 1953 to 01 DEC 1953: Lt.Col. William J. Sims
  • 02 DEC 1953 to 15 JAN 1954: Major Marshall C. Gregory
  • 17 JAN 1954 to 31 DEC 1954: Major John E. Hays
  • 01 JAN 1955 to 13 DEC 1955: Lt.Col. Donald T. Rohrabacker
  • 14 DEC 1955 to 08 JUN 1956: Lt.Col. Henry A. McCartney
  • 09 JUN 1956 to 02 FEB 1957: Lt.Col. Honore G. Dalton
  • 03 FEB 1957 to 01 AUG 1957: Major Marion C. Dalby
  • 02 AUG 1957 to 17 JUN 1958: Lt.Col. Charles M. Kunz
  • 18 JUN 1958 to 01 JUL 1958: Major Walter E. Ottmer
  • 02 JUL 1958 to 01 AUG 1959: Lt.Col. Clyde H. Davis, Jr.
  • 1959: - - - - - - - - - - - Major E. B. Sumerlin Jr.
  • 1959-1960:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Jack Beterling
  • 1960-1961:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Willard Lempke
  • 1961-1962:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Franklin Pippin
  • 1962: - - - - - - - - - - - Major Lee Gaug
  • 1962-1963:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. T.C. Hurst
  • 1963-1964:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. John Doering
  • 1964-1965:- - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. J. Temple Doswell
  • 1965: - - - - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Emmons S. Maloney
  • 1971: - - - - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Ed "Mofak" Cathcart
  • 1973: - - - - - - - - - - - Lt.Col. Andy Martin

Events
  • 01 OCT 1943:
    Marine Night Fighter Squadron Five-Three-Three (VMF(N)-533) was established at Cherry Point, North Carolina and was assigned the Grumman F6F-3N Hellcat.
    Lt. Colonel Marion M. Magruder Commanding Officer.
  • 16 APR 1944:
    FMF[N]-533 embarked from the West coast on United States Ship Long Island.
  • 06 MAY 1944:
    "Black Mac's Killers" arrived at Eniwetok and reported to Marine Air Group 22. Since MAG-22 was stationed at Engebi, this meant that VMF(N)-533 would operate entirely independent of MAG-22, except for administrative purposes.
  • 07 MAY 1945: On 3 days notice, VMF(N) 533 was ordered to deploy to Okinawa with a skeleton crew and a small amount of spare parts. They flew aboard five R5C transports from VMFR-252, along with the Squadron's 15 Hellcats, into the combat area. The 2500 mile journey, with two stops, was the longest over water flight by single engine fighters in WWII. The remainder of the Squadron personnel and equipment followed by sea on LCT's, and did not arrive in-theatre for several more weeks. They landed on Is Shima and prepared a permanent Squadron Headquarters for 533 at Charlie Field, Ie Shima which was operational on June 15, 1945. VMF(N) 533 then transferred combat operations from Yontan Field to Charlie Field for the remainder of the conflict.
  • 10 MAY 1945:
    Black Mac's Killers arrive at Yontan Field, Okinawa and within 48 hours were operational, flying two 6 fighter Night Combat Air Patrols for every night of the remainder of the conflict. Under the most severe weather conditions, and with this skeleton crew, they met all patrol requirements, even sending up replacement fighters for other Night Fighter Squadrons that failed to meet their requirements. On one night they sent up a total of 17 fighters for action. This is remarkable as they only had 15 Hellcats total. They were under the operational control of MAG 31 although still under administrative control of MAG 22.
  • The Okinawa Campaign:
    Captain Robert Baird of VMF(N) 533 is the only US Night Fighter Ace of World War II, with 6 Night Kills. 1st Lt's. Dellamano, Hemstad and Wellwood had 3 each and Le Faivre and Smurr had 2 each. Eighteen 'Black Mac's Killers' had at least 1 Kill, including 'Black Mac' the CO. Among the many commendations and citations earned by the squadron, VMF(N) 533 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for this action.
  • By war's end:
    In spite of the fact that VMF(N) 533 arrived forty days after the Okinawa Campaign began, and the weather was horrendous throughout, 'Black Mac's Killers' shot down 35 enemy aircraft--all radar intercepts, which is almost as many aircraft destroyed by the other 2 Marine and 1 Army night fighter squadrons combined! Not only was VMF(N) 533 the top scoring Night Fighter Squadron of the Pacific Theatre in World War II, 533 had the best safety record and the highest combat ready rate for any operational squadron in the Pacific. In 15 month overseas deployment the Squadron logged nearly 11,000 flight hours with only two losses, both due to 'friendly' fire. 1st Lt. Wilhide was shot down by US forces, and 1st Lt. Kelley was killed by a stray US .50 cal bullet while manning a search light at the control tower at Yontan Filed during the 'Giretsu' suicide raid mounted by the Japanese on the night of May 24, 1945.

    • 05-16-45:
      Francis, Probable by 1st Lt. Alfred Branham near Okinawa.
      Betty by 1st Lt. Robert M. Wilhide near Kume Shima.
    • 05-18-45:
      Betty by 1st Lt. Robert E. Wellwood near Pt. Bolo.
      Hamp by 1st Lt. Edward N. Le Faivre near Pt. Tare.
      Betty by 1st Lt. Robert E. Willwood near Pt. Bolo.
      Betty by 1st Lt. Edward N. Le Faivre near Pt. Tare.
      Betty by 1st Lt. Robert E. Wellwood near Pt. Bolo.
    • 05-24-45:
      Betty by 1st Lt. James E. Smurr near Pt. Mike>
      Betty by 1st Lt. Albert F. Dellamano near Pt. Tare.
      Jake by 1st Lt. Albert F. Dellamano near Pt. Tare.
      Sally by 1st Lt. Albert F. Dellamano near Pt. Tare.
    • 05-27-45:
      Jake by 1st Lt. James E. Smurr near Pt. Mike.
    • 05-28-45:
      Betty by 1st Lt. Forris M. Hollowell near Drake Field.
      Irving by 1st Lt. Robert S. Hemstad NW of Ie Shima.
      Irving by 1st Lt. Richard M. Moore NW of Ie Shima.
    • 06-09-45:
      Tony by 1st Lt. Jay A. Stokes near Pt. Tare.
      Jake by Capt. Robert Baird near Pt. Mike.
    • 06-16-45:
      Betty by Capt. Robert Baird near Pt. Mike.
      Nell by Capt. Robert Baird near Pt. Bolo.
    • 06-19-45:
      Betty by 1st. Lt. William T. Treynor near Pt. Baker.
      Betty by 1st. Lt. Robert S. Hemstad near Pt. Mike.
    • 06-22-45:
      Francis by Capt. Robert Baird NW of Pt. Mike.
      Sally by 1st Lt. Karl B. Witte NE of Heto Saki.
      Sally by 1st Lt. John R. Mahoney near Ie Shima.
      Betty by Capt. Robert Baird near Pt. Mike.
      Betty by Lt. Col. Marion M. Magruder near Ie Shima.
    • 06-24-45: Sally by 1st Lt. Robert S. Hemstad near Ie Shima.
    • 06-26-45:
      Jake by 1st Lt. Johnny W. Peacock near Pt. Bolo.
      Rufe by 1st Lt. Raylan C. Parkhill near Pt. Bolo.
    • 06-30-45:
      Jake by 1st Lt. Charles S. Stitt, Jr. near Pt. Bolo.
    • 07-14-45:
      Betty by Capt. Robert Baird near Pt. Bolo.
    • 07-18-45:
      Jill by 1st Lt. John R. Mahoney near Pt. Bolo.
      Jill by Capt. George Hanna NW of Ie Shima.
    • 07-19-45:
      Zeke by 1st Lt. Karl B. Witte near Pt. Tare.
    • 07-30-45:
      Betty by 2nd Lt. Irving B. Hardy W of Zamba Misaki.
  • Total for 'Black Mac's Killers' VMF(N) 533; 35 kills, 1 probable - all radar intercepts.
  • OCT 1945 to JAN 1947:
    The Nighthawks were stationed with MAG-24 in Peiping, China flying the F7F-3N Tigercat.
  • 1949 through 1952:
    During the Korean conflict the squadron-trained aircrews for the night fighter squadrons in Korea.
  • MAY 1953:
    Marine Night Fighter Squadron Five-Three-Three was redesignated Marine Fighter Squadron 533 (VMF-533). The Nighthawks were assigned the radar equipped McDonnald F2H-4 Banshee.
  • JUN 1953:
    VMF-533 carrier qualified aboard the United States Ship Lake Champlain. Following carrier qualifications, a detachment from the squadron went aboard the United States Ship Bennington for a short cruise.
  • SEP 1956:
    VMF-533 carrier qualified aboard the United States Ship Franklin D. Rooselvelt and remained on board throughout October when it cross-decked to United States Ship Saratoga.
  • DEC 1956:
    Marine Fighter Squadron 533 (VMF-533) was redesignated Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron 533 (VMF(AW)-533). The Nighthawks were assigned the radar equipped McDonnald F2H-4 Banshee.
  • MAY 1957:
    The Nighthawks were equipped with the Grumman F9F-8 Cougar in which they made two Mediterranean Cruises.
  • AUG 19, 1959:
    The Nighthawks were re-equipped with the Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk. Commanding Officer Major E. B. Sumerlin Jr., flew the first Skyhawk acceptance flight this day.
  • 20 SEP 1960
    From:
    RAPEC ejection article from the 07 October 1960 Rocketeer (China Lake weekly newspaper)
    2nd Lt. Robert H. Melville ejects from A4D-2N on 20 SEP 1960.
    Flying BuNu 147705 with VMA-533 at NCAS Cherry Point NC. A/C went out of control over Pamlico Sound and was lost. 1st recorded live ejection using the RAPEC egress system. Melville was the first pilot to be saved with the RAPEC ejection seat.
    USNOTS, China Lake, CA The Rocketeer, Friday, April 21, 1961.
    The inside story of the ejection from Melville's son, Robert H. "Sam" Melville, Jr.
  • DEC 1961:
    Deployed to NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
  • JAN 1962:
    Two VMA-533 pilots set an endurance record for the A4D-2 Skyhawk. The total time airborne was 8 hours and 25 minutes.
  • 12 JUN to 16 AUG 1962:
    The Nighthawks deployed to Puerto Rico. VMA-533 became the first squadron to aerial refuel both going to and returning from Puerto Rico. While deployed in Puerto Rico, VMA-533 became the first tactical squadron to host a reserve squadron on summer training outside the continental United States.
  • June 12, 1963:
    USAF Capt. Donald A. Griffing ejected successfully when he lost control of his A-4B BuNo 145027 after fire broke out in the rear of the plane.
    Belle Plaine, KS West Kansas Overnight article
  • December 30, 1963:
    Lt. Calvin Upchurch Smith Jr. perished in A-4B BuNo 145023 in a crash in Pamlico Sound, NC
    Robeson County, NC The Robesonian article
  • November 1, 1964:
    Capt. W.A. Cason ejected 300 miles east of the Azores while flying from MCAS Cherry Point to Spain and was rescued by the SS Zoella Lykes
    Lake Charles, LA Lake Charles American Press article
  • 01 JUL 1965:
    The Nighthawks were re-equipped with the Grumman A-6A Intruder. Personnel were trained at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington and the Naval Air Station Sanford, Florida.
  • 28 AUG 1965:
    Commanding Officer LtCol E. S. MALONEY, ferried the first Intruder from the Grumman factory at Peconic, New York to Cherry Point, North Carolina.
  • 12 OCT 1965:
    The Nighthawks transferred their A-4 Skyhawk aircraft to VMA-225 and concentrated training on the A-6A. By November 2, 1965 the Nighthawks had received their twelfth Intruder for a full complement of aircraft.
  • APR 1967:
    Now VMA-533(AW), the Nighthawks deployed with the 1st Marine Air Wing to Chu Lai the Republic of Vietnam. The Nighthawks flew combat missions in the Grumman A-6A Intruder over North and South Vietnam.
  • 25 OCT 1967:
    Major Kent C. Bateman was awarded the Navy Cross for action over the Republic of Vietnam.
  • 05 OCT 1969:
    VMA(AW)-533 detached from 1st Marine Air Wing and joined Marine Air Group 15 at Iwakuni, Japan.
  • JUN 1972:
    VMA-533(AW) deployed to Nam Phong, Thailand for combat operations over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
  • AUG 1973:
    VMA-533(AW) transferred to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
  • NOV 1975:
    The squadron returned to MCAS Cherry Point.
  • 1976:
    VMA-533(AW) receives the A-6E Intruder.
  • APR 1980:
    VMA-533(AW) deploys to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
  • AUG 1983:
    VMA-533(AW) deploys aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga for training.
  • 02 APR 1984:
    VMA-533(AW) deploys aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga for MED Cruise.
  • JAN 1986 - MAR 1987:
    The squadron deployed aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy.
  • AUG 1988 - JAN 1989:
    The squadron deployed aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy.
  • FEB 1989:
    VMA-533(AW) returns to MCAS Cherry Point, NC as a member of MAG-14.
  • APR 1990:
    Deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan as a part of MAG-12.
  • DEC 1990:
    VMA-533(AW) begins deployment to Operation Desert Shield via NAS Cubi Point, PI. Unit Intruders arrive in Bahrain on December 21, 1990.
  • 24 MAR 1991:
    VMA-533(AW) returns to MCAS Cherry Point, NC.
  • SEP 1992:
    VMA-533(AW) is redesignated VMFA-533(AW) and assigned the two seat F/A-18D Hornet.
  • 07 DEC 1992:
    VMFA-533(AW) finishes relocation to MCAS Beaufort

Awards
  • 1945:
    Presidential Unit Citation
  • 1967-69:
    Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy
  • 1980:
    Attack Squadron of the Year by MC Aviation Association
  • 1980:
    CNO Safety Award
  • 1981:
    CNO Safety Award
  • 1984:
    Association of Naval Aviation Outstanding Achievement Award for Tactical Aviation
  • Meritorious Unit Commendations with CVW-3
  • 1989:
    CNO Safety Award

Photographs


Circa 1959:
VMA-533 144985 ED-9 refueling VMA-533 145033 ED-23. 3of3
Official USN via the Naval Aviation Museum.

1960-62: BuNo 145033, ED-23, parked on the flightline.
Unknown photographer via W. Mutza

1960 Nighthawks Diamomd formation of (cw from top) BuNo 145030, ED-6, BuNo 145047, ED-12, BuNo 145023, ED-3 & BuNo 145053, ED-18, around VAP-63 Skywarrior BuNo 144827, GB-10.
Photo by Dick Pitman via Bruce Hasse.

1960 Nighthawks Diamomd formation of (L-R) BuNo 145023, ED-3, BuNo 145053, ED-18, BuNo 145030, ED-6 & BuNo 145047, ED-12, refueling VAP-63 Skywarrior BuNo 144827, GB-10.
Photo by Dick Pitman via Bruce Hasse.

A-4B 144983 taken 15 Dec 1960.
The photo Lab caption is "A4D-2 1st RAPEC ejection pilot unk."
The "ED" tailcode says that 983 belongs to VMA-533. The pilots name might be LT Melville and his helmet is marked RAT.
From Gary Verver Colleciton.

15 Mar 1961 Night Hawks Skyhawks BuNo 145014, ED-1 and BuNo 145027, ED-4, refueling from the Marines newest tanker & largest prop aircraft, the Lockheed GV-1.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

15 MAR 61:
Night Hawks Skyhawks BuNo 145014, ED-1 and BuNo 145027, ED-4,
refueling from the Marines newest tanker, largest prop aircraft, the Lockheed GV-1.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

FEB62 NAN photo of a VMA-533 crew checking the prop on a buddy store.
FEB62 NAN photo of VA-533 loading a buddy store onto an a/c.
FEB62 NAN

Feb 1962 USMC Nighthawks Skyhawks BuNo 144985, ED-9 extends the refueling drogue to BuNo 145033, ED-23.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

Feb 1962 USMC Nighthawks Skyhawks BuNo 144985, ED-9, is ready to transfer fuel to BuNo 145033, ED-23.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

Feb 1962 USMC Nighthawks Skyhawks BuNo 144985, ED-9, transfers fuel to BuNo 145033, ED-23, at 200 gallons per minute.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

Feb 1962 six o'clock low in flight view as USMC Nighthawks Skyhawks BuNo 144985, ED-9, transfers fuel to BuNo 145033, ED-23.
Naval Aviation News Photo.

A4D-2 Skyhawks BuNos. 144981 & 144985--- Spring 1964
Nighthawks Douglas A-4B Skyhawks BuNo. 144981 side number 7 & BuNo. 144985 side number 11on the United States Ship Lexington CVA-16 flight deck.
Photograph by Ron Brick.

ED-1, BuNo.145081, suffering from a virulent case of measles, caught when sequestered at VMGR-252's hangar during hurricane stand down in fall of 1964. Measles undoubtedly contracted due to large numbers of 252's KC-130's being emblazoned with Skyhawk insignia when on supply route to Rosy Roads in summer of 1964.
Photo property of Temple Doswell, photographer unknown.

Webmaster's Note: A-4C BuNo.145081 was lost in combat on March 20, 1966 while assigned to VA-144. Pilot LTJG Jerald Lee Pinneker was KIA.



Sources
  • Mark A. Magruder, son of Col. Magruder
  • Ron Brick
  • Ed "Mofak" Cathcart
  • J. Bruce Hess
  • Doug Selby
  • Anna Doswell Easton, daughter of Lt.Col. James Temple Doswell II USMC (ret.)
  • John Gabbard


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