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"Thunder on the Deck and History"

 
The first Marine Corps night fighter squadron, VMF(N)-531, was activated on November 16, 1942, at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, with Lt. Col. Frank Schwable as Commanding Officer. In September, 1943, VMF(N)-531 became the first Naval aviation night fighter squadron to see combat, flying the radar-equipped, twin-engine night fighter PV-1 Ventura, built by Lockheed. VMF(N)-531 was a leader in developing night fighter tactics, and directed a VF(N)-75 F-4U Corsair to shoot down the first enemy plane at night. The "Grey Ghosts" finished World War II with a record of twelve enemy planes shot down by five different pilots, all at night. After the war, the squadron was moved back to MCAS Cherry Point, where its primary function was the training of young pilots and crew for overseas assignments.
 
thunder on the deck detail image.
Detail from the painting "Thunder on the Deck"
 
In 1948, the "Grey Ghosts" were re-designated as VMF(AW)-531, Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron 531. During the Korean War, the squadron, flying the F-3D Skyknight, continued to train pilots for the conflict. In 1959, the squadron transitioned to the F4D Skyray. In 1962, the "Grey Ghosts" began flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, and soon thereafter, played a significant role in the air defense commitment during the Cuban missile crisis. The squadron was re-designated VMFA-531 "Grey Ghost" in August, 1963. The squadron deployed to the Vietnam War for combat duty, then relocated to MCAS El Toro, California.
 
In 1980, VMFA-531 and sister squadron VMFA-323 were deployed aboard the USS Coral Sea in the Indian Ocean. For the first time in aviation history, the carrier battle group fighter support was provided entirely by Marine Corp fighter squadrons. This deployment is the setting for the painting "Thunder on the Deck". In November, 1982, the "Grey Ghosts" transitioned from the F-4N Phantom II to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The squadron was decommissioned on March 27, 1992.
 
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