MARINE OBSERVATION SQUADRON - TWO
The predecessor of Marine Observation Squadron Two-Artillery Spotting Division, Marine Observation Squadron 251 - was activated at Quantico, Virginia on 1 November 1943. In February 1944, VMO-251 was redesignated VMO-2 and attached to the Second Marine Division, Hawaii. During the Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa campaigns, VMO-2 pilots flew hundreds of missions in the OY-1 aircraft in support of the Second and Fourth Marine Divisions, and were the first American aircraft to land on both Saipan and Okinawa After the war, VMO-2 was decommissioned. VMO-2 was reactivated in 1951 at Santa Ana, California where training was begun in reconnaissance, artillery and naval gunfire spotting. In 1953, the squadron moved to Japan with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and remained there until April 1956 when all but a subunit was relocated to Okinawa
In April 1962, a detachment of two O- 1 "Bird Dogs" from VMO-2 were assigned to HMM-362, the first USMC aviation unit to arrive in Vietnam. As fighting intensified, another four-plane detachment was sent to the Da Nang area. The balance of the squadron deployed to Vietnam in May 1965 as part of the Ninth Marine Expeditionary Brigade and took part in Operation Starlight, the first major confrontation of the war. For its efforts in Vietnam, the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation with three bronze stars were awarded to the squadron. Mid 1968 found the squadron receiving its first OV-10 Aircraft. VMO-2's last combat flight in Vietnam was 22 March 1971. The squadron was then transferred to MCB, Camp Pendleton in cadre status until September 1971, when it was reorganized as part of Detachment, MAG-16.
VMO-2 received its first OV- 10D Night Observation System (NOS) equipped aircraft in late 1979. The Forward Looking Infrared detector (FLIR) added new capabilities to the squadron's ability to perform its mission. Since March l980, the OV-1OD NOS has been operationally employed on Combined Arms Exercises (CAX), Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) courses, amphibious exercises and in actual combat operations.
During early l981, the squadron assisted the Royal Moroccan Air Force in forming their first OV- 10A squadron. In May, the Squadron launched two OV-lODs from the USS Okinawa, a first in naval aviation history. In May 1982, the squadron surpassed 25,000 accident-free flight hours. In 1983, the capabilities of the FLIR system were successfully utilized when VMO-2 participated in its first drug interdiction operations, which were conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). During the next two years, VMO-2 participated in eleven more DEA operations and numerous CAX's.
In July 1986, VMO-2 made history by flying an OV-10 1,800 miles without refueling, proving the squadron's capability to self-deploy practically anywhere.
During January 1988, the turnover of the Okinawa detachments was completed, marking the beginning of the first autonomous detachment to WestPac. Since then, VMO-2 has been the sole source of all OV-10 UDP commitments in WestPac and these detachments have distinguished themselves through their participation annually in exercises such as Team Spirit, Cobra Gold, and Cope Thunder. The UDP detachments have seen contingency operations in support of the Philippine Government during the coup attempts and have flown in support of both earthquake and volcano relief. In June 1988, VMO-2 took delivery of the first OV-1OD Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) aircraft to be placed in service with a Fleet Marine Force squadron.
During May 1989, VMO-2 deployed to Maraciabo, Venezuela for joint operations with the Venezulian Airforce. Despite the language barrier, VMO-2 participated in joint missions to include tactical reconnaissance, close-in fire suppressions, air-to-air tactics, and supporting arms coordination with participation from ANGLICO. Venezuelan Marines, and Venezuelan artillery and mortar units. The deployment was an overwhelming success.
In August 1990, VMO-2 made aviation history by launching six OV10's on an unprecedented 10,000-mile journey to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. In January 1991, the air war over Kuwait began and VMO-2 once again proved itself in battle. The Squadron flew a total of 286 combat missions totaling 900 flight hours during Operation Desert Storm. Missions were flown around the clock for the duration of the conflict, focusing primarily on Forward Air Control, Airborne (TAC (A)); Tactical Air Coordination, Airborne (TAC (A)); and multi-sensor reconnaissance. VMO-2 aircrews controlled U.S. and Allied artillery, numerous attack aircraft, and naval gunfire, including spotting for the USS Wisconsin's first combat firing since the Korean War. The squadron performed these demanding and crucial missions despite being targeted by Iraqi surface-to-air missile gunners over 94 times and while trying to avoid large concentrations of antiaircraft artillery. These efforts resulted in confirmed kills totaling 54 tanks, 53 armored personnel carriers, 49 artillery pieces, 112 other vehicles, and four command post buildings. Once victory in the Persian Gulf was assured and hostilities ceased. VMO-2 returned to Camp Pendleton.
This year, VMO-2 has surpassed 10,000 accident-free flight hours, and has participated in 11 major exercises, including 2 Joint Task Force-Six detachments and FAC (A) support of the U. S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada. VMO-2 represented the Marine Corps in superb fashion with attendance at 21 airshows. Up to deactivation, VM0-2 maintained its combat readiness with an intensive aircrew-training program.
Marine Observation Squadron Two disbands leaving a documented history of unprecedented service since World War 11. The illustrious accomplishments over the past half-century can be attributed to each and every Marine who has been a member of this prestigious organization. Although the squadron is disbanding, the legacy will live on in the hearts, minds, and souls of all former "Hostages."
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