Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2) was an observation squadron of the United States Marine Corps which saw extensive action during World War II and the Vietnam War. They were based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California and saw their final combat in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. They were deactivated on 23 May 1993.
Provide aerial fire support spotting and intelligence in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
Artillery Spotting Division, Marine Observation Squadron 251 (VMO-251) was activated at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia on 1 November 1943. In February 1944, VMO-251 was redesignated VMO-2 and attached to the 2nd Marine Division in Hawaii flying hundreds of missions in the OY-1 aircraft. The squadron participated in the Battle of Saipan where they were the first American airplanes to land at Marpi Point Field. During the Battle of Tinian the squadron reconnoitered the island and registered the various batteries positions. The Battle of Okinawa would see their last combat of the war. During the battle, aircraft from the squadron would again be the first American planes to land on the island and they would continue in their primary role of reconnaissance and artillery-spotting missions. Following the surrender of Japan, the squadron remained in Japan until June 1946 when it sailed for the United States. Arriving at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, VMO-2 was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 22 (MAG-22), 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Here the squadron was deactivated on 26 August 1946.
VMO-2 was reactivated on 15 June 1951 at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana, California where they specialized in reconnaissance, artillery and naval gunfire spotting. In 1953, the squadron moved to Japan with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and remained there until April 1956 when all but a subunit was relocated to Okinawa.
Beginning in 1965 VMO-2 was part of Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16) at Marble Mountain Air Facility, Da Nang in South Vietnam flying the UH-1E Iroquois before receiving the OV-10 Bronco. Beginning in 1969 they began to fly the AH-1G Cobra. The squadron split on 17 December 1969, becoming an OV-10 only unit. On 2 February 1970 VMO-2 transferred to Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) at Da Nang Air Base. The squadron flew its last combat mission on 22 March 1971. The Bronco flew over 38,000 combat flight hours between September 8, 1968 and 23 March 1971. On 24–25 March 1971, the remaining 14 Broncos were flown to Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippines for follow on travel to the United States. The squadron was in cadre status until 30 September 1971 when it was reactivated at MCALF Camp Pendleton, California. They received the 9 OV-10s that had been assigned to HMLA-267.
In August 1990, VMO-2 made aviation news by launching six OV-10's on an unprecedented 16,000 km (10,000 mi) journey to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. Beginning in January 1991 the squadron flew a total of 286 combat missions totaling 900 flight hours during Operation Desert Storm. Missions were flown around the clock for the duration of the conflict, focusing primarily on controlling U.S. and Allied artillery, numerous attack aircraft, and naval gunfire, including spotting for the USS Wisconsin's first combat firing since the Korean War. The squadron performed these demanding and crucial missions despite being targeted by Iraqi surface-to-air missile gunners over 94 times and while trying to avoid large concentrations of antiaircraft artillery. These efforts resulted in confirmed kills totaling 54 tanks, 53 armored personnel carriers, 49 artillery pieces, 112 other vehicles, and four command post buildings.
In the U.S. television series Magnum, P.I. (1980–1988) the main characters Rick Wright played by Larry Manetti, and T.C. played by Roger E. Mosley had previously been members of VMO-2 in Vietnam. Tom Selleck and Roger E. Mosley wore "VMO-2 DaNang" baseball caps in the series.
A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. VMO-2 has been presented with the following awards: