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VMF-333 "Fighting Shamrocks "

Squadron history

Activated in August 1943 as VMSB-333, the "Fighting Shamrocks" or "Trip trey" were the first Marine unit to receive the F8U-2 Crusader on November 6, 1959. The unit was based at MCAS Beaufort.

In 1961, the squadron conducted carrier qualifications aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59).

Redesignated VMF(AW)-333, the "Fighting Shamrocks" never got a chance to fly their Crusaders into combat despite the war-weary looks of F-8E BuNo 150852. It was flown by Captain Corbett in 1967 while the unit was based at MCAS Yuma. VMF(AW)-333 finally did go to Vietnam in 1972 after having converted to the F-4 Phantom II. (Copyright © Gaëtan Marie)
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On August 14, 1962, the squadron performed a non-stop air-refuelled deployment to NAS Roosevelt Road, Puerto Rico and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Out of a squadron strength of 22 aircraft, 4 were based in Guantanamo and remained on the hot pad, fully armed and ready to intervene at a moment's notice. The rest of the squadron at NAS Roosevelt Road underwent combat training, operating from a tent city.

Two F-8C Crusaders of VMF-333 "Fighting Shamrocks", ca. 1963. Featured in U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News of March 1964. (Photo: USN)

When the Cuban Crisis began, the number of alert aircraft at Guantanamo was increased in anticipation of possible strikes at targets in Cuba. VMF-333, joined by VMF-331, also assumed the defence of Puerto Rico.

In 1965, VMF-333 became the first USMC F-8 unit to fly across the Atlantic when they participated in a joint US-Norwegian exercise named Operation Bar Drink.

On February 1, 1966, the squadron was redesignated VMF(AW)-333, having received the all-weather capable F-8E model.

On June 20, 1968, the squadron traded its Crusaders for the F-4 Phantom II and was redesignated VMFA-333. It was disestablished in March 1992.

Crusader models used:

F-8C November 1959
F-8E February 1966
F-8D ?




VMF-333 Crusaders on the deck of USS Forrestal during carrier qualifications in 1961. (Photo: USN)