Corsair Over Grosse Ile
Marine Observation Squadron 251 (VMO-251) was activated December 1, 1941 at Naval Air Station North Island, California. In mid-1942 it was transferred to Tontouta, New Caledonia and then to Turtle Bay Airfield on the island of Espiritu Santo in the British-French Condominium of New Hebrides prior to the invasion of Guadalcanal. While flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat during World War II, the squadron participated in numerous Pacific campaigns including Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Santa Cruz, Luzon, and the Southern Philippines.
In 1944, the squadron transitioned to the F4U Corsair, and was re-designated Marine Fighter Squadron 251 (VMF-251) in February 1945. 22 F4U Corsairs from the squadron landed on Samar on 2 January 1945 as part of Marine Aircraft Group 14 (MAG-14) and continued operations in the Philippines until May 1, 1945 when it flew its last combat mission of World War II while supporting clean-up operations at Leyte. The squadron’s excellent performance during this time can be drawn from an award write up by the then Commanding Officer of MAG-14, Colonel Zebulon Hawkins, in which he noted, “During the month of January 1945 . . . this squadron [23 planes] flew 626 combat flights, totaling 2,403 hours. Since… 1 October 1944, until 15 February 1945, this… ground crew has maintained in commission 98% of the squadron’s assigned aircraft. Not once, from June 1944, has it failed to execute an assigned mission because of failure to have the necessary planes in commission… Since 23 July 1944… this squadron has not lost a plane or pilot because of failure or malfunctioning of its aircraft .”
On June 1, 1945, VMF-251 was deactivated at Samar, Philippines Island. Thirteen months later on July 1, 1946, VMF-251 was reactivated at Grosse Ile, Michigan as a ready-reserve squadron.
“Corsairs Over Grosse Ile” by Antonis Karidis is depicting an FG-1D Corsair assigned to USMCR Squadron VMF-251 flying over Grosse Ile Naval Air Station in the summer of 1949.
Proceeds from the sale of prints help us in our restoration efforts.
The Selfridge Military Air Museum is working on a major fund-raising campaign for some long-needed infrastructure improvements, the most important a ‘new home’ for the FG-1D Corsair that is currently undergoing extensive restoration and our beloved T-6 ‘Texan’, which we’d like to get out of our Michigan weather.
The Corsair is currently being restored by our restoration team. Please help, if you can!