United States Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 (VMFA-251) Thunderbolts conduct pre-flight checks and start-up of a Boeing Martin F/A-18C Hornet during exercise Red Flag-Alaska (17-2) at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Alaska. VMFA-251 is a part of Marine Aircraft Group 31 (MAG-31) based at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort in South Carolina. VMFA-251’s heritage goes all the way back to commissioning as Marine Observation Squadron 251 (VMO-251) on December 1st 1941 at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island at San Diego in California. VMO-251 flew Grumman F4F Wildcats during the first couple of years of World War II in the Pacific. They transitioned to the Vought F4U Corsair in 1944 and were re-designated VMF-251 in 1945.
For the Korean War the Thunderbolts flew Douglas A-1 Skyraiders. When the squadron transitioned to North American FJ-4 Furies in 1956 they were re-designated again, this time to VMF-251. They began flying the Vought F-8 Crusader from MCAS El Toro in California in 1958. Then in 1961 they moved to MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina and deployed to NAS Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after the Bay of Pigs invasion.
When the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II went into Marine Corps service the re-designated VMFA-251 was one of the first squadrons to transition to the new jet. For the next 21 years VMFA-251 flew the F-4 until transitioning to the McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18A Hornet in 1985. The Hornet in the video carries two AGM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) on its port outboard wing station and an AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening imaging/targeting pod on its centerline station.