Marine Fighter Squadron One-Twenty-One (VHF-121) (Squadron 6177)
By Thomas E. Doll
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1996 72 Pages
PDF 49 MB
On 28 May, a company of parachutists was formed at Quantico. Marine parachutists had been training on the parachute tower at Lakehurst, New Jersey, since the previous October. As the troops became qualified in the new technique, usually within two weeks, they transferred to Quantico for additional training and conditioning. This was followed by actual jump training from an aircraft. By August, the First Parachute Battalion had been formed.
Marine Fighting Squadron One-Twenty-One had it's formal beginning on Tuesday, 24 June 1941 at Quantico, Virginia. All the squadrons of MAG-1 were assembled outside the main hangars with the new squadron in the center. The ranking officer present was Major General Holland M. Smith. Also present, among others, was Lieutenant Colonel Louis E. Woods. VMF-121's Commanding Officer was Major Samuel Sloan Jack. He had been born 9 August 1905, had been appointed from Arizona to the U. S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1927. Jack, a veteran of the Marine Corps Nicaraguan campaign, accepted and read the orders giving him command of the new squadron.
He was then congratulated by General Smith. Major Jack then thanked the assembled group and left the platform as all hands marched off with a feeling of pride in their new squadron.
At the time of commissioning, VMF-121 had been training with three Grumman F3F-2s borrowed from VMF-1. Their own Grumman F4F-3s were not scheduled for delivery until July. These F4Fs would be among a number of new Grummans (BuNos 3970-4057) that were delivered to VMF-221, VMF-211, VMF-121, as well as VF-3 and VF-5 during the period July to September of 1941. Most of these later saw combat.
By the time the squadron started taking delivery of their new aircraft the First Marine Aircraft Wing had come into existance, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Woods. The new wing was composed of a Headquarters Squadron and Marine Air Group-1. This occurred at the same time that all Marine, squadrons were redesignated on 1 July.