Lest We Forget: "'Pete' Ellis"; VS-27

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

Warning that the Japanese were a mounting threat in the Pacific, he also made the seemingly wild prediction that the Japanese would launch a surprise attack to destroy the U.S. fleet (more than two decades before the actual Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor). More importantly, he wrote Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia , which not only warned of war with Japan, but accurately predicted the problems that would be encountered. It laid out an island-assault counter strategy and provided an amazingly accurate prediction of the resources that would be needed to carry it out. This document became the basis for the Naval War College"s War Plan Orange, the blueprint strategy ultimately used for winning the Pacific War.

Contending that Marines would be needed to seize and hold-not merely defend-key islands in the vast Pacific, Ellis's ideas led to his becoming known to many as the "father of amphibious warfare."

Though intellectually brilliant, he was no armchair strategist or deskbound academic. In the early 1920s, Lieutenant Colonel Ellis went to the Pacific to explore first-hand the coming challenges. Subjected to increasing Japanese surveillance as he penetrated deeper into their sphere of influence, his mysterious death on Palau in 1923 has caused much speculation that he was an early casualty of the war he so accurately predicted.

—Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)


Sea Control Squadron 27 (VS-27) was established 21 January 1987 as Air Antisubmarine Squadron 27 (also VS-27) at NAS Cecil Field, Florida. VS-27 was formed from the VS Support Unit (VSSU), which had been set up as a training and tactics support unit for the Atlantic Fleet's S-3A Viking carrier-based antisubmarine warfare aircraft squadrons.

As the naval aviation force structure grew in the 1980s, the Navy decided to activate a second VS fleet readiness squadron (FRS) to relieve the training load on the Pacific Fleet's FRS, VS-41. The support unit was expanded to assume the role and its personnel and equipment became VS-27, using the same designation as an earlier VS squadron that had been disestablished in June 1973.

VS-27's advent roughly coincided with the introduction of the S-3B version of the Viking-enhanced with more advanced antisubmarine and antisurface capabilities-and the squadron added S-3Bs to the S-3As on its flight line. The squadron conducted the transition of all East Coast VS squadrons to the S-3B by the early 1990s, by which time VS-27 also was providing training for flight crews and maintenance personnel for the ES-3A Shadow electronic warfare version of the Viking.

VS-27 was redesignated Sea Control Squadron 27 on 16 September 1993, a reflection of the S-3B's expanded capabilities. However, the end of the Cold War, which precipitated a declining force structure for naval aviation, cut short the squadron's career. VS-41 once again assumed sole responsibility for S-3 training for the fleet as VS-27 was disestablished on 29 September 1994.

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

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