During World War II, VMF-224 was nicknamed "Fighting Bengals / Fighting Wildcats" and operated the Grumman F4F Wildcat in the South Pacific.
Commissioned May 1, 1942 at NAS Ewa Field on Oahu and underwent training at NAS Barbers Point until August 14, 1942 when the squadron was sent overseas to the New Hebrides. Commanding Officer (C. O.) was Major Robert E. Galer.
On August 29, 1942 the air echelon moved from Efate to Espiritu Santo. On August 30, 1942 nineteen F4F Wildcats from VMF-224 led by Major Robert E. Galer plus twelve SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers from VMSB-231 northward to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal arriving in the afternoon.
On August 31, 1942 the squadron flew its first combat mission with eighteen F4F Wildcats from VMF-224 plus eight F4F Wildcats from VMF-223 scrambled after an air raid alert for a combat patrol. Three aircraft were lost: F4F 02104 (Thompson, MIA), F4F 02122 (Bryans, MIA), F4F 03438 (Amerine, survived).
On October 2, 1942 Wildcats from VMF-224, 1st Division led by Major John L. Smith climbed to 25,000' ascending through several layers of clouds before emerging only 2,000' below seventeen Zeros that peeled off to attack. The Wildcats attempted to dive back into the clouds but were intercepted. Lost was F4F 02110 (Kendrick, KIA), F4F 02118 (Galer, survived) and F4F 02112 (Treptow, MIA). Several other Wildcats were damaged or suffered mechanical problems.
VMF-224 War Diary
NARA "United States Marine Corps Headquarters, Marine Aircraft Group Twenty-Three, First Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force page 2
"31 August 1942 - Routine patrols. 1300 Air raid alarm. Eight F4F-4's of VMF-223 and 18 planes of VMF-224 took off. No contact was made with the enemy. All planes of VMF-223 returned safely, but 3 planes of VMF-23 failed to return. The reason for the losses is not known but is attributed to oxygen failure. The missing pilots were:
2nd Lt. G E. Thompson, USMCR
2nd Lt C. E. Bryans, USMCR.
2nd Lt. R. R. Amerine, USMCR (returned 9 Sep 42 and evacuated)."
NARA "United States Marine Corps, Marine Fighting Squadron 224, History of VMF-224" page 7
"At 1100 on 31 August 1942, seventeen F4F-4's took off from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal for Combat Patrol over enemy territory, but did not make contact with any enemy aircraft. 2d Lts. Gordon E. Thompson, Charles F. Bryans and Richard R. Amerine, USMCR, disappeared from the flight at approximately 27,000 feet altitude, apparently from lack of oxygen."
History of the Marine Corps Aviation in World War II page 84
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