Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152
VMGR-152 Insignia
  • March 11, 1942 - present
Country United States
Allegiance United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Cargo Transport
Role Assault support
Part of Marine Aircraft Group 36
1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Air Station Futenma
Nickname "Sumos"
Motto "Ichi Go Ni"
Tail Code QD
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
LtCol John M. "Gump" Peck

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152) provides aerial refueling service to support Fleet Marine Force (FMF) air operations; and provides assault air transport of personnel, equipment, and supplies. The squadron, known as the "Sumos", flies the fixed-wing KC-130J aircraft. VMGR-152 is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan and is part of Marine Aircraft Group 36 (MAG-36) and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW).



Provide aerial refueling service in support of Fleet Marine Force Air Operations and provide assault air transport of personnel, equipment, and supplies.

Aerial refueling

VMGR-152 is capable of refueling both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in support of tactical missions, training operations, or ferry flights. This is accomplished through the use of the two refueling pods mounted under the wings of their KC-130 aircraft, outboard of the engines. These pods trail a 93-foot hose attached to a stabilized paradrogue into which receiver aircraft plug.

Assault air transport

Assault air transport is the squadron's secondary mission. VMGR-152 can deliver supplies and troops by airdrop, or through assault landings on unimproved airstrips both during the day as well as at night, using night-vision devices.


World War II

Activated in the Western Pacific on March 11, 1942, VMJ-253 pioneered Trans-oceanic transport in the Marine Corps during World War II. VMJ-253 also became the parent squadron for the joint air transport organization dubbed the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command (SCAT). Lieutenant Colonel Perry K. Smith, USMC, became the first Commanding Officer of SCAT. By November 1942, VMJ-253 had supported operations on Guadalcanal and surrounding islands, logging thousands of flight hours.

While on Guadalcanal, VMJ-253 was the first combat transport squadron to land at Henderson Field, bringing Brigadier General Roy S. Geiger and his staff to take command of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Following the Japanese counter attack that forced the Navy to withdraw, VMJ-253 continued to re-supply fuel, ammunition, food, and medical supplies in support of their besieged brethren. The Marines in their R4Ds never wavered in their mission despite being fired upon by Japanese troops lurking near Henderson Field and marauding Zeros in the skies. Until the end of 1942, it was the Marines of VMJ-253 and other SCAT units that solved the logistical problems of Marines and soldiers on Guadalcanal.

Through 1943, VMJ-253 supported operations on Bougainville, New Georgia, Vella Lavella, and numerous islands throughout the Solomon chain. As the island-hopping campaign moved into the Central Pacific in 1944, so did VMJ-253. Detached from SCAT, VMJ-253 officially became a transport squadron and was redesignated VMR-253. VMR-253 was assigned to the Transport Air Group, popularly called TAG, which was the Central Pacific version of SCAT. Continuing the heavy schedule of lifts from Tarawa, VMR-253 sortied to Kwajalein, Roi-Namur, and Eniwetok. In October 1943, VMR-253 moved to Guam. Working out of Guam, VMR-253 supported actions on Tinian, Saipan, and Peleliu. VMR-253 remained on Guam until the close of the war, and in May 1946, returned to MCAS Miramar.

Post WW II / Korean War

A former VMR-253 R5C-1 at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

From Miramar, VMR-253 moved to MCAS El Toro under Marine Aircraft Group 25 where the aging fleet of R4Ds was replaced with R5Ds. VMR-253 continued its primary mission of moving men and supplies wherever the Marine Corps needed them. After a four-year squadron stand down from 1947 to 1951, VMR-253 reactivated with only six R5C aircraft, 5 officers, and 18 enlisted Marines. By the end of the year it had grown to 58 officers, 184 enlisted, had received 16 new R4Qs, and was ready to go to war once again. From January 1952 through June 1953, the squadron logged over 11,000 flight hours, carried 30,170 passengers, and moved 5,213,383 pounds of cargo.

1954 – 1965

In 1954, the squadron relocated to Itami Air Force Base, Japan and then to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. From Japan, VMR-253 conducted the bulk of Marine air transport in the Pacific for nearly ten years. On February 1, 1962, the famous Lockheed KC-130F Hercules joined Marine aviation in the Pacific. With its ability to refuel fighter and attack aircraft, VMR-253 was redesignated Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152), and the squadron’s primary mission became aerial refueling.

Less than a year after receiving the Hercules aircraft, the pilots and Marines of VMGR-152 were called upon to support U.S. Army advisors in the latest hot spot, Indo-China. This deployment gave the squadron valuable experience in the employment of the Battle Herc that would soon pay off. On August 24, 1965, a KC-130F (BuNo 149802), c.n. 3693, from the squadron veered off runway on take-off from Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong hit the seawall and crashed into the sea. This was the first Hercules hull loss in Marine Corps service. It was carrying Marine personnel returning to Vietnam after R & R in Hong Kong - of six crew and 65 passengers, 59 were killed while flying.

Vietnam era

A VMGR-152 KC-130F landing at Dong Ha, in 1967.

Beginning in 1965, with increasing U.S. involvement in Vietnam, detachments from VMGR-152 were deployed in country with Marine Amphibious Forces (MAF) to support F-4s and A-4s used by Marine tactical squadrons. To better support the detachments in Vietnam, the squadron relocated to Okinawa, Japan.

From 1967 to 1975, the bulk of VMGR-152’s missions were directly in support of action in Southeast Asia. Detachments typically lasted five days, and operated out of Da Nang. In addition to aerial refueling and Marine Logistic (MarLog)cargo missions, VMGR 152 'GVs' dropped flares in support of ground troop operations at night. At its peak, the squadron was flying 900 missions a month and continued this high tempo of operations well into 1967. On 10 February 1968 a VMGR-152 KC-130F was hit by groundfire during landing at Khe Sanh, Quang Tri province. The fuel bladders aboard were set alight and the airframe burned out on the runway, with a loss of six on board.

Concurrent with the direct support of action in Viet Nam, the squadron established itself as a mainstay in the Western Pacific. VMGR-152 conducted numerous trans-Pacific (TRANSPAC) missions, which involved the refueling of entire squadrons of fighter and attack aircraft as they crossed the Pacific on deployment. VMGR-152 also participated in a myriad of exercises and the movement of tons of cargo and thousands of troops, securing VMGR-152’s tenure in WESTPAC.

1980s – 1990s

During the 1980s, larger U.S. Air Force tankers specifically designated for the strategic movement and refueling of aircraft relieved VMGR-152 of its TRANSPAC mission. This allowed the squadron to explore a more tactical employment of the KC-130 in intra-theater refueling and transport operations, and employ a more effective use of the aircraft and its personnel in a tactical environment. In 1987, VMGR-152 became the first PCS (permanent change of station) aircraft squadron on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

KC-130s from VMGR-152 refuel VFA-97 F/A-18Cs, in 2006.

Since the early 1990s, VMGR-152 has experienced a steady increase in the number of missions flown. In June 1993, the squadron acquired five KC-130Rs, which provided the squadron with a significant increase in aircraft range and added to its effectiveness in refueling and transport operations.

In January 1995, VMGR-152 joined Special Purpose MAGTF in support of Operation United Shield, the final withdrawal of all UNOSOM forces from Somalia.

In May 2009, VMGR-152 joined Operation Enduring Freedom with the new KC-130J.

Humanitarian activities

In November and December 2004, VMGR-152 participated in Joint Task Force 535, the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief mission in the Republic of the Philippines after several tropical storms and typhoons struck the island of Luzon. In the wake of the December 26, 2004 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, and subsequent widespread tsunami in the Indian Ocean region, VMGR-152 deployed aircraft and personnel to Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia in support of Operation Unified Assistance.

In September 2006, VMGR-152 was awarded the Henry Wildfang Aerial Refueler/Transport Squadron of the Year award from the Marine Corps Aviation Association, which recognizes its impact on the community, as well as how well the squadron performs its mission and the types of missions it is involved in.[1] Community work cited include not only the humanitarian missions throughout the Pacific, but also the work in the Okinawan community.

In march 2011, VMGR-152 transported supplies in support of Operation tomodachi. [2]


VMGR-152's commitment to safety and maintaining readiness levels have earned the squadron numerous unit citations and awards. These include the CNO Aviation Safety Award for 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005, the MCAA Commandant’s Aviation Efficiency Trophy for 1992 and 1993, the National Defense Transportation Unit Award for 1993, 1995, and 2000, and the MCAA Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron of the Year Award (Henry Wildfang Award) for 1994, 2001, and 2005.

On July 16, 2001, the Sumos of VMGR-152 exceeded 230,000 mishap free flight hours. In July 2005, the Sumos exceeded 250,000 mishap-free flight hours.

See also



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939 - 1945.’’. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31906-5. 
  • Sherrod, Robert (1952). History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. 

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