Our profound thanks goes out to Chuck Burin for providing the vast majority of this information, and for taking the time to proofread and correct it!
Marine squadron designators are identified as follows:
The first letter designates the type of aircraft:
The second letter is always M for Marine.
The third designates the type of squadron.
In the case of helos:
Tail Code: ER
VMO-1, based at MCAS New River, North Carolina, got their first Bronco (BuNo 155434) on September 18, 1968. VMO-1 never flew in Vietnam but did participate in Desert Storm. In the 80's and early 90's VMO-1 flew drug interdiction missions for the Drug Joint Task Force. VMO-1 was deactivated in 1993.
Tail Code: VS and later UU
VMO-2 had been part of Marine Air Group 16 (MAG-16) at Marble Mountain Air Facility east of Da Nang, Vietnam since 1965 and operated UH-1Es before receiving the Bronco. The first Bronco to fly in combat was flown by Major S. I. Kittler on July 8, 1968, just a few hours after the first planes arrived from the Philippines. They also operated AH-1G Cobras in 1969. Originally, VMO-2 did not have any tail markings on their Broncos except for a black or white number designator on the nose and tail. The squadron split on December 17, 1969, becoming an OV-10 only unit. On February 2, 1970 they moved to MAG-11 at Da Nang AB. Later in 1970 they started using a white VMO over a red 2 as a tail marking. The squadron flew its last combat mission on March 22, 1971 at Da Nang AB. The Bronco flew over 38,000 combat flight hours between September 8, 1968 and March 23, 1971. Four aircraft were transferred to H&MS-11 for further operations. On March 24-25, 1971, the remaining 14 Broncos were flown to NAS Cubi Point, Philippine Islands for further transfer or return to the US. The squadron was in cadre status until September 30, 1971 when it was reactivated at MCALF Camp Pendleton, CA. They received the 9 OV-10s that had been assigned to HML-267. The same VMO over 2 logo was used until 1973, when the red, white, and blue diagonal stripes with the UU were placed on the nose and tail. This color scheme was designed by 1/LT Jim "Grump" Hodgson at the request of the CO, Lt. Col. James F. Farber.
LtCol Mike Moriarty was the Commanding officer of VMO-2 from January 12, 1970 until September 17, 1970 and wrote the book Ground Attack Vietnam. Col. Robert Stoffey, CO of VMO-2 from August 23, 1975 to October 7, 1976, wrote the book Cleared Hot. There is more information on these publications available on the books page.)
Tail Code: 5Y and later MU
VMO-4 got their first Bronco (BuNo 155467) October 23, 1968 at NASA Grosse Isle, MI and moved to NAF Detroit/Selfridge AFB a year later (October 1969). They subsequently moved to NAS Atlanta/Dobbins AFB, GA on June 6, 1976. VMO-4 was a Reserve unit, and did not participate in Desert Storm. The unit remained at NAS Atlanta to take over the drug interdiction operations that VMO-1 had performed prior to that unit's activation for Desert Storm. VMO-4 was the last American military unit to operate the Bronco, deactivating in July 1994. The last 7 OV-10D+ aircraft were transferred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Tail Code: WB
VMO-6 (called the Tomcats) got their first OV-10s on November 1, 1968 from VMO-2 at Quang Tri RVN. It is interesting that, according to USN inventory records, the first aircraft transferred was BuNo 155429 on October 6, 1968. They had been in Vietnam since 1966 and operated with UH-1Es and later added the O-1C Bird Dog. They were based first at Key Ha with MAG-36, then moved to Quang Tri RVN as part of ProvMAG-39. The squadron flew all three aircraft types until combat operations ceased on October 2, 1969. The Squadron left RVN for MCAS Futenma (Okinawa, Japan) on October 8, 1969. They were deactivated January 1, 1977. The last Commanding Officer was Lt. Col. Larry E. Byers. H&MS-36 took over VMO-6's observation role for a short period and many ex-VMO-6 aircraft were flown by VMO-1 and 2 Detachment crews.
Tail Code: 5L and later QN
VMO-8 got their first Bronco (BuNo 155400) on February 15, 1969 at NAS Los Alamitos, CA. This Reserve squadron moved to MCAS El Toro on March 1, 1971 and were deactivated in July 1976. The squadron lost two aircraft in accidents.
VMO-5 / HML-267
Tail Code: UV
HML-267 had OV-10s from February 1968 until September 1971 when VMO-2 was re-formed at Camp Pendleton. The squadron usually had 4 OV-10s in addition to UH-1Es. Typical early markings were as shown in the photograph of 155404 and later markings in the photo of 155484. Their OV-10s were transferred to VMO-2 on September 30, 1971.
Tail Code: TM
H&MS-11 operated four OV-10As from March 23 to May 13, 1971. The aircraft were numbers 155428, 155450, 155451 and 155486. One aircraft (155450) was lost in combat on April 28, 1971 with both crew KIA. A second plane (155486) was badly damaged when a NVA 122 mm rocket hit the concrete revetment where it was parked. Major General Marion Carl flew a local VR mission on May 9, the last day of combat operations. H&MS-11 operated the aircraft up to May 13, 1971 when the remaining two remaining OV-10s (155428 & 155451) left for NAS Cubi Point, Philippine Islands. These were the last USMC fixed wing combat aircraft to fly from a Vietnam base until April 1972.
Tail Code: EW
H&MS-24 operated OV-10s from MCAS Kanohe Bay, HI. Dates confirmed from inventory records are from at least March 12, 1974 through December 1976. Aircraft included 155402, 155488, 155489, and 155496.
Tail Code: WX
Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 36 was based at MCAS Futema, Okinawa, Japan until at least 1977 and operated in Japan, the Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan. They flew in support of the 3rd Marine Division. H&MS-36 held custody of Broncos for VMO-1 and VMO-2 detachments to the far east after VMO-6 was decommissioned January 1, 1977. According to inventory records, H&MS-36 operated from January 1, 1977 through at least September 1984. Aircraft included numbers 155418, 155424, and 155426.
Tail Code: QT
HMT-303 took over the training of OV-10A/D crews from the USAF on October 1, 1991. The USAF training had been conducted by the 22nd TACTS at Davis-Monathan AFB in Tucson, Arizona from 1981 until October 1, 1991. HMT-303 had at least 4 A- and D-model aircraft including numbers 155405 and 155457. They ended the Bronco training on March 13, 1992 when the Marine Corps decided to eliminate the OV-10 from the active duty inventory.
U.S. Navy Squadrons
VAL-4 was a Light Attack Squadron was commissioned on January 3, 1969 at NAS North Island and was initially designated VA(L)-4. Their first aircraft, BuNo 155461, was also received on that date. Known as the Black Ponies, VAL-4 operated in III and IV CORPS, RVN from April 1969 in support of Navy SEAL and Riverine operations in the Mekong River delta. The squadron had two detachments, Det. "A" assigned to the Air Force Base at Binh Thuy and Det. "B" assigned at the Vung Tau Army Airfield. New facilities for VAL-4 on the Vietnamese Air Force Base at Binh Thuy and the consolidation of VAL-4's operating units lead to the disestablishment of Det. "B" on July 1, 1970. The last combat mission was flown on March 31, 1972 and the unit was deactivated on April 10. VAL-4's 14 assigned Broncos were soon returned to duty with the Marine Corps.
The Technical Reports section was written by members of VAL-4 and contains tons of great information on this unit as well as Bronco operations in general - it's required reading if you have any interest in Naval OV-10s! There is even a VAL-4 Organizational Chart.
Here's a note from Ron Pickett that should be of interest to anyone associated with VAL-4 or who wants to see the Mighty Bronco in action. I have not yet seen this tape but it sounds like a good one! Thanks for the tip, Ron.
The Black Ponies of VAL-4 have developed a highly professional videotape history of the squadron. It is 73 min in length and includes extensive air and ground coverage, and is available for $30.00 plus $5.00 S&H by contacting me at:
Tail Code: RA
VS-41 was the Navy training RAG for S-2s at NAS North Island, CA, and received their first OV-10 (BuNo 155460) on October 2, 1968. The squadron provided initial crew and replacement crew training for VAL-4. One aircraft (155460) was lost in a crash August 7, 1970 at North Island. The crew was killed. They had 4 OV-10s until February 3, 1972.
Tail Code: BS
Squadron SOL-69 never existed. I'm just checking to see if you are awake! :-)
Return to the U.S. Marine Corps Bronco Page
Return to the U.S. Navy Bronco Page
Hits to this page since
April 24, 1998: