MCARA Units > VMD-354 (1943-1945)
Marine Photographic Squadron 354 (VMD-354) History
VMD-354’s website (www.usmarinecorpsvmd-354.com) provides a complete detailed history of the squadron, its people, operating locations and aircraft information with many great photographs. The following summary is provided from information posted there.
VMD-354 was commissioned on 1 July, 1943 at MCAS Cherry Point and began training with a PBY4-1/B-24D multi-engine aircraft, the same type being flown in combat missions by VMD-154 in the South Pacific. In February, 1944 the squadron received its first F6F-3P Hellcats but continued to train in both types. In March, 1944 their squadron CO, Lt. Col E.E. Pollock, and his crew were all killed in crash of a PBY4-1. By September the decision had been made to go with the faster and better equipped F6F-3P only, and the PBYs were transferred to the Navy. Shortly afterwards a second squadron, VMD-954, was stood up with a nucleolus of officers and enlisted from 354 and 154 who had returned to CONUS. Both squadrons were moved up to an outlying field at Greenville in November, 1944.
On 12 April, the same day President Roosevelt died, the squadron departed Greenville by train to MCAS Miramar on the West Coast awaiting shipping to the Pacific. Capt. Louis Conti, later Major General, and current MCARA member was the newly assigned operations officer. The squadron departed to Guam via ships and the advanced party arrived on 4 May, 1945.
From May until 6 August when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, VMD-354 provided photo dets to various islands in the Northern Pacific including Ulithi, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Pelieu. In the last months before the wars end the squadron’s F6F’s with extended range tanks were tasked to photograph the potential landing areas in the Japanese home islands in preparation for the planned invasion.
The squadron was relieved by VMD-954 which had transitioned to the new F7F-3P Tiger Cats but too late for WW II. VMD-354 returned to CONUS in November and essentially became a paper squadron back on the East Coast until 6 December, 1946 when it was renamed VMP-354. (VMP-354 was decommissioned in 1949).
(Write up provided by Col H. Wayne Whitten USMC (ret) , June 2008)