Lest We Forget: Paul Henry Carr, VMA-322

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)
—Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)


Marine Attack Squadron 322 (VMA-322) was activated at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, on 1 July 1943 as Marine Fighting Squadron 322, equipped with F4U Corsairs fighter-bombers. The squadron conducted training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Ewa, Hawaii, before heading to the war in the Pacific.

The “Cannon Ball Squadron” was deployed forward to Emirau in September 1944, but shifted to garrison at Espiritu Santo from October 1944 until April 1945, when VMF-322 staged to Kadena, Okinawa. The squadron engaged in close air support of Marines in the bloody campaign to capture Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyu chain from Japan.

In June 1945, VMF-322 supported the amphibious landing of the 2d Marine Division on Iheya Shima, and that month became the first Marine squadron to attack the main islands of Japan. In July, the Cannon Ball Squadron moved to Awase airfield and, by the end of hostilities in August, had shot down 29 Japanese aircraft.

In 1949, after being based in Midway and Hawaii, VMF-322 moved to Marine Corps Air Station Edenton, North Carolina, where the squadron was deactivated on 30 November.

The outbreak of war in Korea in June 1950 resulted in the reactivation a year later, on 6 July 1951, of VMF-322 as a reserve F4U squadron at Naval Air Station Squantum, Massachusetts. The squadron moved to Naval Air Station South Weymouth in January 1954 and traded its Corsairs in March 1955, entering the jet age with F9F-6 Cougars.

VMF-322 was redesignated VMA-322 on 15 May 1958, assumed its new role, and became known as the “Fighting Gamecocks.” The squadron upgraded to the FJ-3 Fury in November 1959 and then the A-4B Skyhawk in September 1962. In 1963, VMA-322 absorbed VMA-217, also based at South Weymouth.

As a reserve squadron, VMA-322 was never called to active duty, but continued training and participating in exercises. The squadron upgraded to the A-4C in 1971, the A-4E in 1973, and finally the A-4M in 1983. The squadron also flew two-seat TA-4J and TA-4F versions for training.

VMA-322 was deactivated on 30 June 1992 during the post-Cold War drawdown.

—Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)

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