Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 333 (VMFA-333) originally was activated on 1 October 1943 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, as Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 333 (VMSB-333). The Shamrocks, initially equipped with SBD-4 Dauntless five bombers, later upgraded to SBD-5 versions. The squadron trained in antisubmarine warfare at Boca Chica, Florida, before transferring to Midway Island in July 1944.
At Midway, VMSB-333 stood lonely garrison duty and conducted antisubmarine patrols. In October 1944, the Shamrocks moved to Ewa Field in Hawaii, switched to F4U-1D Corsairs, and became Marine Bomber Fighter Squadron 222 (VMBF-333). The squadron reverted to the VMSB-333 designation in December 1944, and was deactivated on 1 November 1945, never firing in anger at the Japanese.
The demands of the Korean War and the Cold War resurrected the Shamrocks at Marine Corps Air Station Miami, Florida on 8 May 1952 as Marine Attack Squadron 333 (VMA-333). Initially equipped with F6F-5 Hellcats, the squadron switched to F4U-4 Corsairs and later AD-5/6 Skyraiders. The Shamrocks received the FJ-3 Fury jet fighter and were redesignated Marine Fighter Squadron 333 (VMF-333) in January 1957. In 1959, VMF-333 became the first Marine squadron to fly the F8U-2 (F-8C) Crusader and participated in the standoff with Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The squadron was redesignated Marine All-Weather Fighter Squadron 333 (VMF[AW]-333) in February 1966, operating F-8D and later F-8E versions.
In 1968, the Shamrocks switched to the F-4J Phantom II and were redesignated VMFA-333. The squadron made two deployments on the USS America (CVA-66), the second in 1972 during intense aerial operations over North Vietnam. On 9 November 1972, Major Lee Lassiter and Captain John Cummings shot down an all-Marine crew during the Vietnam War.
After short cruises on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and routine deployments to Japan, VMFA-333 upgraded to the F/A-18A Hornet in 1987. In August 1990, the squadron deployed to the Arabian peninsula as part of the Desert Shield buildup. When Desert Storm broke in January 1991, VMFA-333 flew 706 combat missions without loss and delivered more than 2 million pounds of ordnance against Iraqi forces. VMFA-333 was deactivated on 20 March 1992 as part of the post-Cold War drawdown.