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Summing it up: VMF-221 at Midway

by Santiago A. Flores

VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 at San Diego, California. In December 1941 the unit was moved to Hawaii, Ewa MCAS. On December 25th , 1941, 14 F2A-3's of VMF-221 took off from the "Saratoga" CV-3 to land on Midway Island. Originaly formed part of the relief force for Wake Island.

On March 28th,1942 8 more F2A-3 were offloaded from the Seaplane Tender "Curtiss" AV-3 for the unit at Midway, and finally 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats were delivered from the Aircraft Ferry "Kitty Hawk" APV-1 on May 26th, 1942.

The following is number of listing of the personnel and the aircraft of VMF-221, that participated in aerial combat in the defense of Midway Island on the morning of June 4th, 1942.


Plane   Bu.No.            Pilot / Status

MF-1    01518     Maj. Floyd B. Parks USMC / Missing 

MF-2    01548     2Lt. Eugene P. Madole USMCR / Missing

MF-3    01525     Capt. John R. Alvord USMC / Missing

MF-4    01537     2Lt. John M. Butler USMCR / Missing

MF-5    01569     2Lt. David W. Pinkerton Jr. USMCR / Missing

MF-6    01552     2Lt. Charles S. Hughes USMCR / --
                  (turned back due to engine problems)


Plane   Bu.No.             Pilot / Status

MF-7    01552?    Capt. Daniel J. Hennessey USMC / Missing

MF-8    01541     2Lt. Ellwood Q. Lindsay USMCR / Missing

MF-9    01524     Capt. Herbert T. Merrill USMC / Survived
                  (wounded; bailed out) 

MF-10   01528     2Lt. Thomas W. Benson USMCR / Missing

MF-11   01568     Capt. Phillip R. White USMC / Survived

MF-12   01542     2Lt. John D. Lucas USMCR / Missing


Plane   Bu.No.             Pilot / Status

MF-13   01562     Capt. Kirk Armistead USMC / Survived

MF-14   01563     2Lt. William B. Sandoval USMCR / Missing

MF-15   01553     Capt. William C. Humberd USMC / Survived

MF-16   01523     2Lt. Williams V. Brooks USMCR / Wounded

MF-17   01521     2Lt. Charles M. Kunz USMCR / Wounded

MF-18   01559     2Lt. Martin E. Mahannah USMCR / Killed 
                  (his body washed up later)

23      3989      2Lt. Walter W. Swansberger USMCR / Missing 
                  (flying a Wildcat)

Flying Tigers
revised and updated


Plane   Bu.No.              Pilot / Status

MF-19   01520     Capt. Robert E. Curtin USMC / Missing

MF-20   01550     2Lt. Darrell D. Irwin USMCR / Survived


Plane   Bu.No.              Pilot / Status

22      4008      Capt. John F. Carey USMC / Wounded

24      4000      Capt. Marion E. Carl USMC / Survived

25      3997      2Lt. Clayton M. Canfield USMCR / Survived

26      4006      Capt. Francis P. McCarthy USMC / Missing

27      2532      2Lt. Roy A. Corry USMC / Survived

28      1864      2Lt.Hyde Phillips USMCR / ---
                  (did not engage; a/c out of order)

VMF-221 losses for June 4, 1942

Aircraft: 12 F2A-3, 2 F4F-3

Pilots: 13 MIA, 1 KIA, 4 WIA

Aircraft in Commission on June 6, 1942

F2A-3: MF-6, MF-11 and MF-21

F4F-3: 24, 27, and 28


April 10th, 1942

Capt. James L. Neefuss (211-MF-1): Mavis Flying Boat

June 4th, 1942
Capt. Clayton M. Canfield (F4F-3 #25): Aichi 99 dive bomber
Capt. John F. Carey (F4F-3 #22): Aichi 99
Capt. Marion E. Carl (F4F-3 #24): A6M Zero fighter, 2 A6M Zeros damaged
2Lt. Roy A. Corry Jr. (F4F-3 #27): A6M Zero, Aichi 99
Capt. James P. McCarthy (F4F-3 #26): A6M Zero
Capt. William C. Humberd (F2A-3 MF-15): B5N2 Bomber, A6M Zero, B5N2 bomber damaged
Capt. Kirk Armistead (F2A-3 MF-13): Aichi 99 probable
2Lt. Charles M. Kunz (F2A-2 MF-17): 2 Aichi 99
Capt. Philip R. White (F2A-3 MF-11): Aichi 99, Aichi 99 damaged.

Of the surviving pilots of VMF-221, two would later become "Aces" during the course of the war. Charles Kunz would later fly in VMF-224, adding six more victories to end the war with 8 victories. Marion Carl would later fly in VMF-223 raising his score to 18.5/0/3. Clayton b>Clayton M. Canfield would add two more vistories to his score with VMF-223.

VMF-221 was re-equipped with the F4F-4 and later with the F4U-1, -1c, and -1D during the course of two more deployments overseas. The squadron finished the war with a score of 155 victories, 21 damaged and 16 probables.


Victory List No.1 USMC Credits for the Destruction Of Enemy Aircraft in Air to Air Combat, World War 2 By Frank J. Olynyk, April 1982.

Stars and Bars, A tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 by Frank Olynyk. Grub Street UK. 1995

Wildcat Aces of World War 2 by Barrett Tillman, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No.3. Osprey Aerospace 1995.

F2A Buffalo in Action by Jim Maas. Squadron /Signal Publications Inc. Aircraft Number 81. 1987.

A Glorious Page in Our History, The Battle of Midway 4-6 June 1942 by Cressman, Ewing, and Horan. Pictorial Histories 1996

The Annals of the Brewster Buffalo: U.S. Marine combat reports from the Battle of Midway; Jarmo writes about Midway.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo

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