My most recent album purchase comes in the form of a grouping of photos from a member of the ground crew of the VMF-542 Night Fighter Squadron. Comprised of USMC (Marine) pilots flying the F6F Hellcat, the 542nd flew missions in the PTO during WWII. The album is a great little glimpse into the mysterious world of the night fighter squadron during WWII.
Marine Attack Squadron 542 was initially commissioned as Marine Night Fighter Squadron 542 (VMF(N)-542) on March 6, 1944, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Upon commissioning, the squadron was assigned the F6F Hellcat. They were relocated to San Diego, California in mid-summer, 1944 in preparation for a move to the combat zone. Late in October, the squadron arrived at Ulithi, in the Caroline Islands and immediately began flying combat air patrols.
Later in 1944, VMF(N)-542 deployed to the Pacific theater. By early April 1945, most of the squadron had deployed to take part in the Battle of Okinawa. Night operations against the enemy began on April 15 with missions being flown from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa. Second Lieutenant Arcenaux was the first squadron pilot to down an enemy warplane with a night fighter on April 16, 1945. While stationed at Yontan, the Tigers were credited with destroying eighteen Japanese airplanes and carrying out rocket attacks on the Ryukyu Islands chain of Amami, Amami Ōshima, Tokunoshima, Kikai Shima, Miyako Jima, and Amami Gunto. For these actions the Tigers were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Between April and August 1945, Major Robert B. Porter and Captain Wallace E. Sigler became the first night fighter aces on Okinawa.
Following a short tour of occupation duty at Yokosuka, Japan, VMF(N)-542 was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. Training during this period was oriented towards night and all-weather fighter tactics and resulted in the squadron being re-designated Marine Night All-Weather Fighter Squadron 542 (VMF(AW)-542) in 1948.
13 thoughts on “WWII USMC Marine Night Fighter Air Squadron VMF-542 Photo Album”
I was a plane captain during the 1960 – 1963 tour of duty in VMF(aw) 542, flying the F4D SKY RAY. To date, we have collected about 2500 snap shots, photos and other momentoes…..of our time in the sun.
Thank you for your service. Would love to swap emails with you at some point. Also I would be honored to post a few photos of your unit here on my website if you would like. Also would be more than willing to share scans for addition to your group.
I stumbled across your posting. I am a WWII military historian and school teacher. I recently purchased a unit history book of the VMF-542 along with a roster of members of the unit. I was researching the names and came across your posting. I own a non-profit traveling military museum which I take to public events, schools, retirement homes and other various functions with the purpose of educating the people about the sacrifices our veterans have made for us. My goal is to get the youth interested and engaged in wanting to learn about our history and help to preserve it by talking to their family members and asking questions. It would mean a lot if you could contact me. Please send me a message so that we can get in touch. Thank you and thank you for your service! ~Dan
About 30 years ago, I came onto possession of a small blue log book with removable mimeograph forms, it was titled THE LAST LOG OF THE NIGHT FIGHTER SQUADRON,It detailed incidents of Japanese fighters and bombers being flown in desperate attempts to escape the U.S. Forces after the war was officially declared to be over. The Night Fighter squadron pursued the Japanese until one of the aircraft ditched in the ocean or one ran out of fuel,it was not a question of combat, no one was still interested in that anymore.I sold the book to a collector in La Jolla Ca.and have wondered for years where it is now.The collector passed away 10 years ago. Robert Kyle La Jolla Calif 29/06/ 2012
Wish we had that now! The 542nd is still a mysterious unit……….. Thanks!
Are you the Bob Kyle that served during WWII with a Wally Crossman? I have a couple of 10 Sens in my possesion and they are signed by both of you. There is some other info on them also, and if you are interested I would be willing to send you photos of them. I am trying to track down Wally or his family also. Please respond as I look forward to thanking you for your service personally. My Uncle served in WWII on a can that was lost. And I wondered if you ever ran into him, since this currency was passed down from my grandmother. Bob Burton, Illinois, 2013
SO SORRY BOB , I,m not the one you need to hear from , just a 73 year old collector of WW2 memoribilia. But I could flag you about the Martne things in my possesion, if you are interested! Bob Kyle
Thank you for your service. I enjoy viewing these photos. My father was with VMF (N) 534 and I am searching for and photos of squadron. If you can refer me to a book or website I’d be grateful.
My father (then Lt. JC Thomson, Jr.) was the Radio and Radar Officer for VMF (N) 542 from its formation until the end of the occupation, and is still living at 97. I have several photographs of the unit I would love to share if you wish. I had the honor to meet Bill Arcenaux and several of the remaining guys in the unit back in the 80s when they still had reunions. Dad will be delighted to know about this site and see these pics. Thank you!
My father, served with your father, (Curtis) in VMF(N) 542 during WWII.
Sadly, on December 3, 2013, my father died at age 91. On March 25, 2014, he received full military honors and rests in Arlington National Cemetery. His military career spanned 24 years, retiring September 1966 achieving rank of Lt. Colonel, USMC.
I also attend several squadron reunions and meeting great individuals What made VMF(N) 542 unique is the squadron stayed together as one unit, (formation to occupation) with minimum rotation. It was that Semper Fi spirit making the reunions special.
Current original squadron contacts: (March 2014)
Don and Ellen Marpe, (Duluth, MN.) has served as VMF(N) Association contact person.
Stub Haggas (Whiteboro, NY)
Arthur, “Arcie”, J. Archenaux (New Orleans, LA) (piloot)
The squadron is cited in several books:
VMF(N) 542 Cruise Book, reprinted by VMF(N) 542 Association, September 2003, Greenlee Printing Co, Calumet, Michigan.
Sloan, B. (2007) The Ultimate Battle, Okinawa 1945 – The last Epic Struggle of World War II Simon and Schuster.
Carlton, Dell, (2001) Sent Forth as a Warrior, Morris Publishing Company, Kearney, Nebraska. (Carlton, was a pilot in the squadron)
I have original pictures of the squadron. Would be glad to scan so you can include in your blog, was not sure how to attach images to blog. Also my fathers original flight log books, gives some insight into the squadron operations, firstname.lastname@example.org Please do not post this comment for public view. Thanks.
What an archive to come across and a pleasure to see these wonderful photographs. I am the current Squadron Sergant Major for VMA-542 in Cherry Point, NC. Our squadron offices/hangar is currently under renovation and is due to be completed sometime in late summer. The CO and I are seeking historical photos, items etc. to place on display throughout the squadron area and in our new ready room. I would love to see your complete collection of photos of VMA-542 (previously VMF(N) 542 and VMF(AW) 542) and if possible be allowed to make some prints suitable for framing. Please advise if this is possible or agreable and thank you for your efforts to preserve this wonderful history.
I stumbled upon this site today while researching some information regarding my grandfather Capt Wallace E. Sigler. He and Major Robert Bruce Porter served together in VMF(N)-542 and became the first night fighter aces on Okinawa. My uncle and I have some photographs of him that I would be happy to share with you. My uncle (his son), has his flight books that may be of interest to you and your group. I’m sure that he does not want to part with them, however, we could make some copies of pertinent pages if you would like. Please feel free to contact me and I will see if my uncle and I can get you photos or copies of anything we have.
Here is a link to some of the info I refer to:
Click to access VMA542History111009%5B1%5D.pdf