Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this unique book traces the history of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 from its commissioning in 1943 through warfare in the Pacific in World War II, three years of combat action in the Korean War, intensive involvement in Vietnam, and a number of significant peacetime accomplishments during the 1980s. The history was prepared from command diaries and chronologies, published works covering the major periods of conflict, and personal papers, letters, and the recollections of Marines who were personally involved. The author, Colonel Gerald R. Pitzl, received his bachelor of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Minnesota. He has more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps Reserve, including eight years of extended active duty. Colonel Pitzl has served three tours of duty overseas, including a ten-month assignment to the Force Logistics Command, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, during 1969 and 1970.
The history of VMFA-323 was written to provide an account of important events covering the more than 40 years of the squadron's continuous active service. From its commissioning in 1943 through action in the Pacific, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the inter-war periods, the "Death Rattlers" can be seen to have served with distinction.
Marine Fighting Squadron 323 (VMF-323) was commissioned on 1 August 1943 at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Cherry Point, North Carolina. The squadron was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 32 (MAG-32) within the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW). The nickname "Death Rattlers" and an appropriately designed squadron patch were adopted by VMF-323 soon after commissioning. Based upon an incident wherein a large rattlesnake fell prey to three VMF-323 lieutenants and wound up adorning the unit's ready room, both nickname and patch continue in use today.