The Fighting Corsairs - The Men of Marine Fighting Squadron 215 in the Pacific During WWII

Published on
July 2, 2021
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Jeff Dacus
Other Publication Information
The Men of Marine Fighting Squadron 215 in the Pacific During WWII
Product / Stock #
Company: Lyons - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Lyons - Website: Visit Site

Lyons Press was launched nearly four decades ago as a publishing company dedicated to what founder Nick Lyons described as a lifestyle of "responsible outdoor sport," Lyons Press has evolved into a leading publisher of high-quality books on fishing and hunting, nature, animals, military history, American history, and sports.

Jeff Dacus is a retired Master Sergeant of Marines who experienced tank combat in Operation Desert Storm. He is also a retired schoolteacher who taught U.S. history for 35 years and as an adjunct professor at the University of Portland. A retired Marine tanker, he volunteers with local veterans groups and is a speaker at historical events and with school groups. He is the historical consultant for the annual Northwest Colonial Festival. He is a private pilot who has written numerous print articles in Leatherneck Magazine and Armor Magazine, as well as online for the Journal of the American Revolution. He holds advanced degrees from American Military University, the University of Portland, and Lewis & Clark College. He resides in Vancouver, WA. Check out his web site at

Jeff Dacus follows the pilots of VMF-215 from the creation of the squadron, through training, and the first three tours of VMF-215 pilots. Originally designated VMSB-244, then to VMSB-242 prior to deploying, the pilots trained at MCAS Santa Barbara where they transitioned from Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers to Grumman F4F Wildcats. Next stop was to MCAS Ewa in Hawaii where VMF-215 transitioned to the Vought F4U Corsair. The squadron insignia was the Fighting Corsairs which was celebrated by Vought management. Next stop was Midway Island then they were off to Espiritu Santo in the South Pacific. The change from Hawaii to Espiritu Santu was jarring, going from paradise to living on the horrid conditions in the Solomons where you could bet that the mosquitos would eat you alive before you could eat your rations. An excellent place to lose 60 pounds very quickly. The three tours consisted of six weeks in battle, followed by two weeks rest & relaxation in Australia. Jeff Dacus covers every pilot that flew with the Fighting Corsairs for the first three tours, including the original pilots from the first tour that were able to return to the states upon completion of their service.

The front cover black and white photograph depicts a VMF-215 birdcage Corsair in flight over the Hawaiian coast while they were based at Barber’s Point for three weeks. Here, the pilots of VMF-215 were able to get in training on division and section tactics; as well learn more about their new mounts. The rear cover black and white photograph depicts the original VMF-215 pilots in route to Hawaii during February 1943 aboard the USS Pocomoke (AV-9). I counted 48 black and white photographs along with four black and white maps. The Table of Contents includes the following sections:

  • Timeline Of The Pacific War And VMF-215
  • Principle Aircraft Types
  • Foreword by the Publisher
  • Introduction
    • Bouganville
  • Chapter One: Training
    • Owens
    • Neefus
    • The Squadron
    • The U-Bird
  • Chapter Two: Hawaii
    • Voyage
    • Midway
    • Chapter Three: The Combat Zone
    • On The Move
    • Espiritu Santo
    • Guadalcanal
    • First Missions
    • First Combat
    • Fighting Back
  • Chapter Four: Up The Slot
    • Up The Slot
    • Different Competition
    • Munda
    • Interlude
  • Chapter Five: Leapfrog Up The Solomans
    • Rekata Bay, Where The Floatplane Zeros Play
    • Alone
    • More Action
    • Meanwhile…
  • Chapter Six: Munda And More
    • Interlude At Santa Isabel
    • Munda
    • Watching A One-Man Show [Page 088]
    • One On One
    • Meanwhile…
  • Chapter Seven: Tough Missions…And A Break
    • A Medal Of Honor Flight
    • Get Kahili!
    • Intermission
    • The Rest of VMF-215
  • Chapter Eight: Rest And Relaxation
    • Espiritu Santo
    • Spaghetti Or Spinach?
    • Australia
    • Return To The Combat Zone
  • Chapter Nine: Back In The Saddle
    • Barakoma
    • Invasion Of Bougainville
    • Interim
    • No Contact
    • Australia, Again!
  • Chapter Ten: First Shot At Rabaul
    • Fortress Rabaul
    • Aces
    • Return of VMF-215
    • First Mission Over Rabaul
    • Routine Operations
  • Chapter Eleven: Just Another Mission
    • Owen’s Division
    • Dick Braun’s Division
    • Thrifty Warner’s Division
    • Roger Conant’s Division
    • Hap Langstaff’s Division
    • Don Aldrich’s Division
    • Torokina And Barakoma
  • Chapter Twelve: Hammering The Enemy
    • Back To Rabaul
    • Interlude At Vella Lavella
    • Back To Action
    • View From The Top
    • Back To Business
  • Chapter Thirteen: Rabaul Defiant
    • Aces
    • Big Strike / Big Effort
    • Warner Takes The Lead
  • Chapter Fourteen: Chasing Zeros
    • First Strike From Bougainville
    • Mystery Flight
    • Routine
    • Dubious Intelligence
    • Zero-Chasin’
  • Chapter Fifteen: Final Flights
    • Deadly Mission
    • Aftermath
    • On The Ground
    • Maximum Effort
    • The Last Big Flight
    • Going Home
  • Chapter Sixteen: Afterwards
    • Three Tours Finished
    • The Bent-Wing Bird
    • Where Did They Go?
  • Epilogue: Aerial Victories
  • Appendix One: VMF-215 Losses On First Three Tours
  • Appendix Two: Medal of Honor Citation For Bob Hanson
  • Appendix Three: Navy Unit Citation for VMF-215
  • Bibliography
  • Index

What really drew my attention was the wealth of information on Don Aldrich. I had participated in one of club’s group builds and had built one of the Corsairs that Don Aldrich flew. I guess I should say that Don Aldrich might have flown, since none of the pilots had a personal aircraft; they flew what was available. I had done plenty of research on Don Aldrich, but there simply was not much available in any of my Corsair books, and he was a 20 victory ace. Jeff Dacus has a much better story of who Don Aldrich was. This is also true of many of the VMF-215 pilots. Robert Hanson, Harold Spears, Robert Owens, Roger Conant, Hap Langstaff, and many others in detail I have not seen before.

The Fighting Corsairs is hard to put down. Jeff Dacus has a great writing style and keeps the reader engaged. I was able to read this over three days while waiting for the grandkids to go to sleep. If you have any interest in World War II, this is an incredible work. If you have any interest in the Vought Corsair, this is a must have book.

My thanks to Jeff Dacus and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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