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Command History

VMA (AW) 242 was originally activated as Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 242 in 1943. Upon activation, the squadron began training at El Centro, Calif., flying the TBF-1 and TBM-1 Avenger. The squadron was then deployed to Espiritu Santo in the Southwest Pacific aboard the USS Kitum Bay in February 1944. Thus began the squadron's long combat history, starting in the Northern Solomons, later shifting to Saipan and Tinian, and finally to Iwo Jima, where the squadron flew anti-submarine patrols until the end of World War II. On Nov. 5, 1945, the squadron left Guam for San Diego and 18 days later was deactivated.
On Oct. 1, 1960, fifteen years later and now flying the A-4D Skyhawk, the squadron was reactivated as Marine Attack Squadron 242 at Cherry Point, NC. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, VMA-242 departed Cherry Point on short notice and deployed to NAS Key West, Fla. The squadron maintained a ready posture until the Soviet withdrawal of offensive weapons from Cuba, at which time the squadron returned to Cherry Point. In September 1963, VMA-242 embarked for duty with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) in WestPac. The squadron operated out of MCAS Iwakuni, Japan until its return to the United States in September 1964.
On Oct. 1, 1964, the squadron, now re-established at MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. was redesignated Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 242. VMA(AW)-242 became the first Marine Corps squadron to be equipped with the new A-6A Intruder, an aircraft that had the capability of providing close air support at night, as well as carrying out deep interdiction strikes and armed reconnaissance missions, in all weather conditions.
In late 1966, VMA(AW)-242 joined the 1st MAW at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam and, by Nov. 1, 1966, participated in combat operations against the Viet Cong and the NVA. Initially the squadron supported allied ground forces, but during April 1967, the Bats were also assigned to the first of many Rolling Thunder missions (deep strikes) over North Vietnam. The squadron, utilizing the unique capabilities of the Intruder, flew patrols over North Vietnam until the bombing halt in late 1968. From then until the squadron's departure from Vietnam on Sept. 8, 1970, the Bats continued supporting allied forces in South Vietnam, as well as flying sorties against the Ho Chi Minh Trail in North Vietnam and central Laos. During the squadron's tour in the Republic of Vietnam, VMA(AW)-242 logged 16,783 combat sorties and delivered 85,990 tons of ordnance.
VMA(AW)-242 arrived at MCAS El Toro, Calif. on Sept. 12, 1970 and became the first A-6A squadron in the 3d MAW. After a post-Vietnam drawdown, a rebuilding program was completed and the squadron began training to a higher state of readiness. In September 1977, the squadron transitioned to the A-6E aircraft. After ten years at MCAS El Toro, Calif., the Bats again deployed overseas to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan as part of the six-month Unit Deployment Program (UDP). During this deployment, the squadron deployed and trained in such places as the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, and Korea.
Upon its return to MCAS El Toro on April 22, 1981, VMA(AW)-242 began receiving the latest model Intruder, the A-6E TRAM, in preparation for re deployment to Iwakuni in April 1982. During the squadron's second Western Pacific (WesPac) Unit Deployment Program (UDP) deployment, the Bats participated in numerous, highly successful operations in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Western Australia.
During August 1983, VMA(AW)-242 was the first Marine squadron to deploy to the African continent as part of Operation Eastern Wind '83 in Berbera, Somalia. While in country, the Bats conducted successful joint operations with the Somali Army Air Defense Force and the United States Navy and Air Force.
In April 1984 and November 1985, the squadron participated in its third and fourth UDP deployments WestPac. Returning to El Toro in May 1986, the squadron was awarded the Lawson H. M. Sanderson Trophy as the Marine Corps' Attack Squadron of the Year for 1986. In April 1987, the Bats made their fifth WestPac UDP deployment. While operating in Japan, Korea, Australia and the Philippines during these UDP's, the Bats participated in such exercises as Bear Hunt, Beach Crest, and the first Cope Thunder to include night, low-level attacks. April 1988 was highlighted by a squadron deployment to Alaska to participate in exercise Amalgam Warrior. October 1988 saw VMA(AW)-242 redeploy to Iwakuni, Japan for the sixth and final WestPac UDP with the A-6E Intruder.
In August 1990, the squadron deployed as part of MAG-70 in Operation Desert Shield. Seven aircraft were flown to MCAS Cherry Point, NC, with four aircraft being transferred to VMA(AW)-224 to increase their combat effectiveness in support of Desert Storm, with the remaining three aircraft being turned over to MATVAQWINGPAC at NAS Whidbey Island, WA.
On Dec. 14, 1991, VMA(AW)-242 was redesignated as Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, and the Bats began conversion to the F/A-18D Night Attack Hornet.