The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was commissioned on the 167th anniversary of the Marine Corps, Nov. 10, 1942, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. 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 Dec. 3, 1943. A little more than a year later, the Wing deployed a night fighter squadron in support of the war effort.
On Apr. 21, 1944, the Wing boarded three carriers for a voyage to Hawaii and arrived May 8, where it assumed the functions of Marine Air, Hawaii Area.
When the Japanese surrendered, 3rd MAW was decommissioned and its personnel were assigned to other units. The Wing had played an important, but behind-the-scenes, role in defeating the Japanese by giving the best training available to Marine pilots and support personnel.
In 1952, as the Corps again fought in the Far East, the Wing was reactivated at 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 Miami for Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif., and was rebuilt again, with the addition of Marine Aircraft Group 15, followed by Marine Aircraft Group 36 with its helicopter squadrons at a nearby Air Station in Santa Ana, CA.
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 the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing of today.
The Wing saw action again as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducting operations in Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield/Storm/Saber. After the end of hostilities, 3rd MAW aircraft provided support in Operations Provide Comfort and Southern Watch over Iraq. The Wing was once more called into service in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope.
The fall of 2001 would reveal a new type of warfare, the War on Terror, and 3rd MAW answered the call again deploying several detachments in support of the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom.
In the fall of 2002 the Wing began deploying to Kuwait to prepare for combat operations in Iraq. The Third Marine Aircraft Wing supported I MEF and coalition forces in liberating Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 3rd MAW has a well-proven, colorful battle history and today's Marines stand ready and prepared to meet the challenges of the ongoing War on Terror.