News: Checkerboards celebrate 70 years of warfighting excellence
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
Marine Corps aviation is a strategic system of fixed-wing, rotary and supporting squadrons that are commissioned, decommissioned and re-designated as necessary. Not many squadrons have a lustrous history that stems back to World War II.
To celebrate more than a half-century of aircraft support for Marines from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom and everywhere in between, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 will be celebrating their 70th anniversary with a rededication to colors ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, May 23-24.
The squadron, originally designated as Marine Fighter Squadron 312, was commissioned on 1 June, 1943 at Page Field, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island with a fleet of F4U-1D Corsairs.
More than half a century later, the Marines of VMFA-312, or "Checkerboards" as they are nicknamed, are still preparing for deployments with the F/A-18 Hornet.
"We will be rededicating every battle streamer on the squadron colors in an official ceremony," said Maj. Charles Jindrich, the executive officer for VMFA-312.
After the rededication to, the squadron will host a lunch at their hangar where different military vehicles and the F/A-18 Hornet will be on display and offering tours of MCAS Beaufort’s F/A-18 Hornet flight simulator, said Jindrich.
The following day, May 24, the squadron is slated to hold a golf tournament at MCRD Parris Island followed by a traditional Lowcountry boil at Traditions restaurant aboard Parris Island.
The geographical location of VMFA-312 is also part of the unique history that encompasses the squadron.
"Not every fighter squadron in the Marine Corps has its roots where they are right now," said Jindrich, a native of Chicago. "It’s cool to see where we came from."
Jindrich has been with the squadron since 2011 and is well aware of the squadron’s history. The Marine Corps is infamous for its tradition and history resulting in high esprit de corps in Marines. Even the newest Marines are trained to embody tradition and history.
For Pfc. Christopher Armstrong, one of the newest Marines of the Checkerboard family, learning about the squadron’s past is one thing he intends to do while serving with them.
"I like to know the history about things," said Armstrong, an airframe technician with VMFA-312 and native of Doniphan, Mo. "You have to know the history of something to know how the future is going to be."
From the Marine Corps’ 35th Commandant, Gen. James Amos, who once served as the commanding officer of VMFA-312, to Armstrong, who has been serving with the squadron for one month, the Checkerboards continue to illuminate their runway with history and tradition.
"There are a lot of people out there who support not only VMFA-312 but the Marine Corps as a whole," said Jindrich. "It’s pretty eye-opening and eye watering at the same time.
"I see the squadron having an 80th anniversary, for the next ten years there will be Checkerboards somewhere around the world."
The rededication ceremony will be open to those who have served with VMFA-312 past or present and will commence at 10:30 a.m. on May 23. The golf tournament at The Legends Golf Course on Parris Island will commence at 9 a.m. on May 24.
For more information visit the 70th anniversary Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/353416081430686/?ref=ts&fref=ts or call 228-7509.