1ST MARINE AIRCRAFT WING

As the aviation combat element of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is headquartered at Camp Foster on Okinawa and comprises Marine Aircraft Groups 12, 24, and 36 based respectively at Marine Corps Air Stations Iwakuni (Japan), Futenma (Okinawa), and Kaneohe Bay (Hawaii). It also includes Marine Air Control Group 18 based at Futenma, which is responsible for command and control and air defenses of the wing.

The Wing was actviated on July 7, 1941, at Quantico before it was transferred to Naval Air Station San Diego following the Pearl Harbor attack and then to Camp Kearny on the last day of 1941. Its first overseas deployment during World War II was to Guadalcanal, where it was dubbed the “Cactus Air Force” in a nod to the Allied code-name for the island. Despite abysmal living conditions and rudimentary airfield technology, the Cactus Air Force held its own against technologically superior Japanese aircraft such as the A6M Zero and played a pivotal role in helping the ground and naval forces secure this foothold in the Pacific. One of the Wing’s most famous members was Joe Foss, the leading Marine Corps fighter ace in WWII with 26 kills who later went on to serve as Governor of South Dakota and commissioner of the American Football League.

With the outbreak of the Korean War, the Wing deployed Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 33 to provide close air support for Marine ground troops, delivering highly effective tactical air strikes that helped halt the North Korean advance at the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter in the summer of 1950. Between MAG-33 and MAG-12, the wing flew nearly 127,500 sorties, nearly a third of which were close air support; helicopters from the wing also evacuated almost 10,000 wounded servicemembers.

During the Vietnam War, the Wing continued its roles of delivering close air support and evacuating wounded personnel, and flew sorties delivering sup0plies to Marines station at isolated outposts in the field. It also helped pioneer the technique of rapidly transporting Marines into landing zones near suspected enemy locations or to areas where reinforcements were needed.

Inspired by the emblem of the 1st Marine Air Wing, this patch is not authorized for wear by active-duty Marine Corps personnel on official uniforms, but it is a great way to display pride in this Marine Corps unit that has been “Fighting and Winning” our nation’s battles for over 75 years.
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