Seven of the eight operating
squadrons plus HEADQUARTERS, service Squadron saw action in the Pacific
Theatre between the time VMB 413 embarked for Espiritu Santos, New
Hebrides by way of Hawaii, on Jan. 3. 1943, until the war ended. The
other “400” squadrons followed the same basic route. They
all received about 6 weeks of additional training at Espiritu before
heading north for real action.
These squadrons operated
first from Sterling Island and later from Green and Emirau. The main
assignment of these squadrons were daily bombing and strafing missions
against bypassed, but heavily fortified Japanese bases such as Kaveing
on New Ireland and Rabaul on New Britain. They also operated against
Japanese shipping with low level bombing and carried out nightly heckling
missions against these and other installations.
Squadron VMB 611 also participated
in the heckling missions with the “400” squadrons. They
were also the first MAG 61 squadron to operate in the Philippines.
Serving under Marine Aircraft Groups Zamboanga (MAGSZAM), They provided
close air support of ground troops and flew long range patrols over
Borneo and Mindoro.
Meanwhile, VMB612 joined
the action, operating against Japanese shipping in the area around
the Bonin Islands from their base on Saipan.
The last squadron to see action in the Pacific Theatre was VMB 613.
They landed on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and operated against
bypassed enemy islands, also located in the Marshall group. They also
carried out missions in search of enemy shipping.
VMB 614 did arrive in the
Pacific, but too late to see action. They landed on Sand Island of
the Midway Group on August 14, 1945, one day before President Truman
announced the end of the war with Japan.