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Watch: Marine Aviators Train For War At MCAS Cherry Point 1964

“Wings Of A Marine” Features Skyhawks and Phantoms and the Lady Lex

Official US Marine Corps Photograph

Produced by the Navy Department in 1964, the film “Wings of a Marine” tells the story of Second Lieutenant William T. Smith. He was typical Marine aviator in those days. His career path after completion of his basic flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola in Florida. This particular Marine aviator enters the A-4 pipeline and flies Douglas A-4C Skyhawks with VMA-225 Vagabonds. The film was shot primarily at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point in North Carolina. The clip was uploaded to YouTube by virgil tracy. Enjoy!

Official US Marine Corps Photograph

The film is typical for its era in that it’s somewhat hokey. But that doesn’t take away from the excellent air-to-air photography or the time-capsule quality of the personnel and their appearance. Smith’s initial A-4C carrier qualifications (CarQual) were shot aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (at the time CVS-16, later CVT-16). The quality of both the visuals and the audio is quite good–better than most films transferred to video from this period.

Official US Marine Corps Photograph

Also making screen appearances are VMFA-115 Silver Eagles flying their McDonnell-Douglas F-4B Phantom IIs and VMA-332 Polka Dots flying A-4Cs. As Smith drives down along the MCAS Cherry Point ramp he sees Lockheed KC-130F Hercules tankers of VMGR-252 Otis, and Vought RF-8A Crusaders and Douglas EF-10B Skyknights of VMCJ-2 Playboys. The VMGR-252 tankers would make history a few months later when they refueled a Sikorsky CH-3 helicopter in flight for the first time.

Official US Marine Corps Photograph

A-4s take center stage in the film

Naturally there are numerous shots of the Vagabonds in their A-4Cs. Prominently featured A-4C BuNo 148506 actually served with both the Vagabonds and the Polka Dots. It also flew with VMA-533 Nighthawks during the early and mid-1960s. After serving with the Navy’s VA-106 Gladiators, the jet went back to the Polka Dots. The same unit was flying it when it crashed into Dismal Swamp near MCAS Cherry Point after a collision with another A-4C (BuNo 149610) during August of 1967.

Official US Marine Corps Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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