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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 No. Bu.No. Pilot Status
MF-1 01518 Maj. Floyd B. Parks USMC MIA
MF-2 01548 2Lt. Eugene P. Madole USMCR MIA
MF-3 01525 Capt. John R. Alvord USMC MIA
MF-4 01537 2Lt. John M. Butler USMCR MIA
MF-5 01569 2Lt. David W. Pinkerton Jr. USMCR MIA
MF-6 01552 2Lt. Charles S. Hughes USMCR Did not engage,
Turned back due
Engine problems

Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status
MF-7 01552? Capt. Daniel J. Hennessey USMC MIA
MF-8 01541 2Lt. Ellwood Q. Lindsay USMCR MIA
MF-9 01524 Capt. Herbert T. Merrill USMC Bailed out WIA
MF-10 01528 2Lt. Thomas W. Benson USMCR MIA
MF-11 01568 Capt. Phillip R. White USMC Survived
MF-12 01542 2Lt. John D. Lucas USMCR MIA

Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status
MF-13 01562 Capt. Kirk Armistead USMC Survived
MF-14 01563 2Lt. William B. Sandoval USMCR MIA
MF-15 01553 Capt. William C. Humberd USMC Survived
MF-16 01523 2Lt. Williams V. Brooks USMCR WIA
MF-17 01521 2Lt. Charles M .Kunz USMCR WIA
MF-18 01559 2Lt. Martin E. Mahannah USMCR KIA (his body washed
up later)
23 (F4F-3) 3989 2Lt. Walter W. Swansberger USMCR MIA

Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status
MF-19 01520 Capt. Robert E. Curtin USMC MIA
MF-20 01550 2Lt. Darrell D. Irwin USMCR Survived

Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status
22 4008 Capt. John F. Carey USMC WIA
24 4000 Capt. Marion E. Carl USMC Survived
25 3997 2Lt. Clayton M. Canfield USMCR Survived
26 4006 Capt. Francis P. McCarthy USMC MIA
27 2532 2Lt. Roy A. Corry USMC Survived
28 1864 2Lt.Hyde Phillips USMCR Did not engage;
a/c out of order.

Total Losses for June 4th, 1942 for VMF-221:
Aircraft: 12 F2A-3, 2 F4F-3
Pilots: 13 MIA, 1 KIA, 4 WIA 4

Aircraft in Commission on June 6th, 1942
F2A-3 MF-6, MF-11 and MF-21
F4F-3 24, 27, and 28

April- June 1942, Midway Island

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 DB
Capt. John F. Carey (F4F-3 #22) Aichi 99 DB
Capt. Marion E. Carl (F4F-3 #24) A6M Zero; +2 A6M Zeros Dam.
2Lt. Roy A. Corry Jr. (F4F-3 #27) A6M Zero; Aichi 99 DB
Capt. James P. McCarthy (F4F-3 #26) A6M Zero
Capt. William C. Humberd (F2A-3 MF-15) B5N2 Bomber; A6M Zero; B5N2 Bomber Dam.
Capt. Kirk Armistead (F2A-3 MF-13) Aichi 99 DB Prob.
2Lt. Charles M. Kunz (F2A-2 MF-17) 2 Aichi 99 DB
Capt. Philip R. White (F2A-3 MF-11) Aichi 99 DB; Aichi 99 DB Dam.

Of the surviving pilots of VMF-221, two would later become "Aces" during the course of the war. 2Lt. Charles M. Kunz would later fly in VMF-224, adding six more victories to end the war with 8 victories. Capt. Marion E. Carl would later fly in VMF-223 raising his score to 18.5/0/3. Other pilots like 2Lt. Clayton M. Canfield would add two more vistories to his score with VMF-223.

As for VMF-221. its was re-equipped with the F4F-4 and later with the F4U-1, -1c and - 1D, during the course of two more deployments overseas, VMF-221 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.