News: Silver Eagles soar beyond 70 years
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
BEAUFORT, S.C. - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, also known as the Silver Eagles, will reflect on their storied tradition and history as they celebrate 70 years of excellence on Nov. 8, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
Established on July 1, 1943 in Santa Barbara, Calif., the Silver Eagles have distinguished themselves time and time again in the history books. They started off with a fleet of F4U-1 Corsairs and were the first Marine Corps squadron to receive a full complement of the F9F-2 Panther Jet Fighters in 1949. The squadron was also the first Marine Corps squadron to serve aboard a carrier, the USS Roosevelt, in 1950.
The list of operations VMFA-115 has participated in spans over a half-century of peacetime, conflicts and humanitarian efforts. Operations include World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and many other missions in between. Some of the interesting missions between conflicts included intercepting and escorting various Soviet Union aircraft during The Cold War.
The history of the squadron is illuminated in the 1988 book “A history of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115,” written by retired Capt. John C. Chapin.
In the book Chapin describes the squadron’s history as evolving from “a group of wartime beginners in SNJ-4 planes to today’s front-line professionals in their F/A-18 Hornets.”
Notable VMFA-115 Marines include Maj. Joseph Foss, one of the first Marine Corps aviators to receive the Medal of Honor for shooting down 26 Japanese aircraft during a deployment over the Pacific in 1943. In reference to Foss, the squadron is also nicknamed “Joe’s Jokers.”
The anniversary will take place in conjunction with an annual reunion of former Marines and Sailors of VMFA-115. The VMF/VMFA-115 Reunion Association attempts to hold a reunion annually and have not had one in Beaufort in 10 years. The alumni will consist of both enlisted and commissioned Marines and Sailors spanning in service from 1943, when the squadron was first commissioned, to Marines from the 90s.
The squadron and guests are scheduled to enjoy an open house at the Silver Eagles’ hangar, where current squadron members will showcase and demonstrate current F/A-18 capabilities, followed by a social at the Officers’ Club aboard MCAS Beaufort on Nov. 8. On Nov. 9, events will consist of a golf outing and tour at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, followed by the Marine Corps Birthday Ball celebration on Nov. 10, in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
As Chapin concludes in his book, VMFA-115 has set a standard for other Fighter-Attack squadrons of the Marine Corps. Today’s VMFA-115 Marines may look back on the squadron’s proud history of accomplishment and look forward to a promising future in the annals of Marine aviation.