3RD MARINE AIRCRAFT WING PATCH

Formed on 10 November 1942, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing originally consisted of just over a dozen officers, 25 enlisted personnel, and a single trainer aircraft, all located at a base—Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point—that existed only on paper just a year earlier. The Wing deployed its first combat unit, a squadron of bombers on 3 December 1943; a little over twelve months later it deployed a night-fighter squadron.

April 1944 saw the Wing relinquish its assigned units to the 9th Marine Aircraft Wing and journey to Hawaii, where it assumed the role of Marine Air, Hawaii Area, training pilots for the crucial battles in the months ahead. The Wing was decommissioned in December 1945, having played a critical role in preparing USMC pilots for the final offensives that left the Japanese with no choice but surrender.

In 1951, the Wing was reactivated, once again at Cherry Point, to provide training for the Marine Corps pilots who would be flying close air-support and evacuation missions. Even as the training progressed, major components of the Wing began to be relocated to a new station, Marine Corps Air Station Miami. But just as with Cherry Point, Miami would be prove to be only a temporary abode, and in September 1955 the unit departed for Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California. Here the Wing was augmented with the addition of Marine Aircraft Group 15 and Marine Aircraft Group 36.

Over the coming decades, the 3rd stood ready to send highly trained squadrons wherever trouble flared across the globe: to Vietnam in the 1960s, to Southwest Asia as part of Operation Desert Storm (and later follow-up operations Provide Comfort and Southern Watch), and to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. Several of the Wing’s squadrons were detached and sent to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, and in 2002 the entire Wing—nearly 450 aircraft and over 15,000 personnel—was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Currently, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing consists of four Marine Aircraft Groups (11th, 13th, 16th, and 39th), the 38th Marine Aircraft Control Group, a Headquarters squadron, and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.
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