Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), the Sharpshooters were commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif. Jan. 3, 1969, as part of Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training Group 10, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. The squadron trained naval aviators and naval flight officers in the employment of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. VMFAT-101 flew its first training sortie Feb. 20, 1969, and completed its first class of fighter aircrew by August of that year. During the summer of 1970, VMFAT-101 moved to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. In 1972 the Sharpshooters earned their first Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award for Excellence in aviation safety after compiling over 18,300 mishap free flight hours.
In July 1974 VMFAT-101 absorbed the assets of VMFAT-201 from MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. and became the largest fixed wing tactical jet squadron and the sole remaining F-4 training squadron in the Marine Corps. The Sharpshooters earned the 1976 CNO Aviation Safety Award, as well as the Commanding General Fleet Marine Forces Pacific Aviation Safety Award in 1978 and 1979 while it amassed over 30,000 mishap-free flight hours. The Sharpshooters continued to train aircrews in the venerable Phantom II and in 1983 earned the coveted Marine Corps Aviation Association Robert M. Hanson Award as the finest fighter squadron in Marine aviation. May 20, 1987, VMFAT-101 trained its last F-4 replacement aircrew; during July the squadron flew its remaining 10 F-4 aircraft to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., for permanent storage. During the 18 years VMFAT-101 flew the Phantom, the Sharpshooters amassed over 125,000 flight hours training Marine and Navy aircrews for the fleet.
Sept. 29, 1987, VMFAT-101 returned to MCAS El Toro to prepare for duty as the third F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). March 31, 1988, MCCRTG-10 deactivated and VMFAT-101 joined Marine Aircraft Group 11. By October of that year, the Sharpshooters owned 21 F/A-18s, had trained 25 qualified instructor pilots and were ready to begin training new Hornet pilots. By May 1989 VMFAT-101 graduated 23 new F/A-18 pilots and accumulated over 11,000 mishap free Hornet flight hours. In December 1989 the squadron entered its sixth year mishap/injury free.
Jan. 10, 1990, VMFAT-101accepted its first two seat F/A-18D Hornet and began training aircrew for the transition into the Hornet. June 1990 the Sharpshooters had graduated over 150 Hornet aircrew, amassed over 28,000 F/A-18 A, B, C and D which originated from Lot VI to Lot XII. August 27, 1990, Lt.Col. "Cajun" Tullos flew the squadrons 50,000 mishap-free flight hour. The Sharpshooters routinely deployed to MCAS Yuma Ariz., and MCAS Miramar Calif., for fighter weapons training detachments as well as every West Coast Aircraft Carrier for carrier qualifications.
Today, the Sharpshooters stand ready to meet the traditions of the past and the challenges of the future. The output of highly qualified aircrew, trained to fill the fleet squadrons, has continued for 20 years and will remain the focus for years to come.