Military Wiki
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
  • November 10, 1942– December 31, 1945
  • February 1, 1952 - present
Country United States
Branch USMC
Type Marine Aircraft Wing
Role Conduct air operations in support of the Fleet Marine Forces
Part of I Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Nickname(s) 3rd MAW
Motto(s) "Bella Ac Pace Paratus"
"Prepared in Peace and War"
Engagements World War II
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
*2003 invasion of Iraq
*Operation Vigilant Resolve
*Operation Phantom Fury
Major General Steven W. Busby
James F. Amos

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) is the major west coast aviation unit of the United States Marine Corps. It is headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California and provides the aviation combat element for I Marine Expeditionary Force. The wing is made up of a headquarters squadron, four flying groups, an aviation command and control group and an aviation engineering group.


Provide combat ready expeditionary aviation forces capable of short notice world wide deployment to Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), fleet and unified commanders.

Current force


Units of 3rd MAW are located in the western United States at the following bases:

Subordinate units

Structure 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing


World War II

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was commissioned on November 10, 1942, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina with a personnel roster of 13 officers, 25 enlisted men and one aircraft - a trainer.

The Wing's combat history began with the World War II deployment of a bomber squadron on December 3, 1943. A little more than a year later, the Wing deployed a night fighter squadron in support of the war effort.

In early April 1944, the wing turned over its training duties and assigned units to the 9th Marine Aircraft Wing and on April 21, 1944 boarded three carriers for a voyage to Hawaii and arrived May 8, where it assumed the functions of Marine Air, Hawaii Area (MAHA)[1]

When the Japanese surrendered, 3d MAW was decommissioned on December 31, 1945 at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa and its personnel were assigned to other units.[2] The Wing also played an important, but behind-the-scenes, role during the war by training Marine pilots and support personnel for combat duty overseas.


In 1952, as the Marine Corps again fought in the Far East, the Wing was reactivated at MCAS Cherry Point for the Korean War. The main portion of the wing began moving to the new Marine Corps Air Station Miami, the Marine Corps' first "flying field."

In September 1955, the Wing left MCAS Miami for Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. 3d MAW was rebuilt again, with the addition of Marine Aircraft Group 15, followed by Marine Aircraft Group 36 on September 5, 1955,[3] with its helicopter squadrons at the nearby Marine Corps Air Facility Santa Ana, later renamed[4] Marine Corps Air Station Tustin.

Vietnam War through the 1980s

Wing squadrons were detached and deployed to Vietnam as combat action in Southeast Asia flared. At the end of the Vietnam War several units were brought back to the United States and deactivated or redesignated, creating 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing as it is constituted today.

The Gulf War & the 1990s

The wing saw action again as part of I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), conducting operations in Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. It deployed over 40 squadrons of aircraft, flew over 18,000 sorties while operating from 6airfields throughout the theater.[5] After the end of hostilities, 3d MAW aircraft provided support in Operation Provide Comfort and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. The wing was once more called into service in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. In 1999, 3rd MAW relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

Global War on Terror

The fall of 2001 saw the beginning of the War on Terrorism, and 3rd MAW since deployed several detachments in support of the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

In the fall of 2002, the wing began deploying to Kuwait to prepare for combat operations in Iraq. Ultimately the wing moved 435 aircraft and 15,451 personnel to Southwest Asia prior to the attack marking the first time the entire wing had deployed since the Gulf War and the largest since the Vietnam War.[6] Their two primary bases in Kuwait were Ali Al Salem Air Base and Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base while Wing ground units also established 15 Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) or Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs) during march north.[7] During the invasion, 3rd MAW expended over 6 million pounds of ordnance, including over 2,300 general-purpose bombs and 2,200 precision guided munitions.[8]

Current aircraft in use

Fixed-wing aircraft
Tiltrotor aircraft

Starting in 2009, all CH-46 helicopter squadrons from 3rd MAW will transition to the MV-22.[9][10]

Rotary wing aircraft

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. RottmanUSMC WWII OOB, pgs. 432-33.
  2. RottmanUSMC WWII OOB, pgs. 433.
  3. History of Marine Aircraft Group 36
  4. Historic California Posts: Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin
  5. Warren: 403-404.
  6. Visconage & Harris: 15,20.
  7. Reynolds Basrah, Baghdad and Beyond, p. 174-75.
  8. Visconage & Harris: 180.
  9. LtGen George J. Trautman, III (2009). "2010 Marine Aviation Plan" (PDF). Headquarters Marine Corps. Retrieved 2010-01-05. [dead link]
  10. Fuentes, Gidget (Thursday December 17, 2009 16:49:50 EST). "First West Coast-based Osprey arrives". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 18 December 2009. 

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