Here’s some information I was able to gather on the history of Bogue Field. Enjoy. . .
MCAAF Bogue, North Carolina 1942 – 1958
The small town of Bogue is located 18 miles SSE of Cherry Point on Bogue Sound, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. In early 1942, the Navy purchased 573 acres for an auxiliary of Cherry Pt. allocating $1.4 million for construction. In the fall, construction began and on December 1, 1942, a guard detail was sent to Bogue to protect government property. Facilities were built to support two squadrons with a total of 45 aircraft. Three 4,000-ft. asphalt runways were laid down. Accommodations were provided for 114 officers and 854 enlisted men as well as billeting spaces for 82 women Marines. Bogue was designated as an MCAAF on August 16, 1943.
With the exception of one squadron, Bogue was an exclusive domain of VMSB dive-bombing units. The first squadron, VMSB-331, moved to Bogue from New River in early June 1943 with 10 SBD-4s. VMSB-331 was joined by VMSB-332 on August 27 from Cherry Pt. Two weeks later, VMSB-333, formed one month earlier at Cherry Point, also moved aboard. On September 27, MAG 33, commissioned February 1943 at Cherry Pt., also moved to Bogue. Additional squadrons attached to MAG 33 were located at Atlantic Field.
MAG 33 encountered several problems that delayed the training of the group’s squadrons. First, new pilots who had not gone through an SBD Operational Training Unit were assigned to the group. For unknown reasons, the Training Command had produced an excess of pilots trained in the twin-engine seaplane pipeline for the PBJ program. To utilize these pilots, many of them were assigned to MAG 33. Until the later part of 1943, the group received a preponderance of multi-engine trained pilots. One of these pilots stalled the aircraft on his first approach and was killed. As a result, a program was initiated to give multi-engine-trained pilots 10 to 15 hours of training in the SNJ before soloing them in the SBD. The training schedule was further set back in August, when 16 relatively experienced pilots of the group were ordered to the West Coast to join squadrons being organized there. Nevertheless, the first squadron, VMSB-331, was sent to San Diego in September for dispatch to the South Pacific; however, arriving at the West Coast, the squadron discovered it had completed only 30% of the minimum training hours required by the Commander for Air West Coast for squadrons going to combat. MAG 33 revised its training syllabus to comply with the requirements. Even so, when VMSB-332 arrived on the West Coast in January 1944 with 18 new SBD-5s, the squadron had only completed 47% of the syllabus.
A shortage of aircraft further delayed training. It was not until late 1943, that the squadron received their full complement of aircraft. An accelerated flight training program was then inaugurated with some pilots flying more than 100 hours a month in November and December. Poor facilities also contributed to slow training. Bogue was initially constructed without peripheral taxiways connecting the ends of the runways. Consequently, aircraft taxiing for takeoff on cross-runways experienced excessive delays waiting for other aircraft to land. Finally, over water training areas were restricted by the Army Air Defense Command. Aerial gunnery sectors were only 10 miles long, limiting gunnery flights to only 12 minutes of flying time in one direction. It was not until late 1943 that the Army allowed over-water navigation flights.
One of the reasons for the concentration of dive-bombing squadrons was their unique training requirements. Dive-bombing targets, circles with white rings at 50 and 100-ft. diameters, were established on nearby coastal islands. Vertical targets 12-ft. high and 24-ft. long were erected adjacent to the bombing circles for low-level bombing practice. Since the targets were on the water’s edge, it was possible to skip bombs off the water to simulate aircraft attacks against surface ships. A maneuvering target boat was also acquired. The target boat proved unseaworthy due to its heavy armored deck. After several unsuccessful trials in the ocean, the boat was operated in the Neuse River. There the target boat ran at fairly high speeds and provided realistic training for dive bombing until engine trouble put the craft out of operation.
On April 6, 1944, MAG 33 transferred to Eagle Mt. Lake, TX. During MAG 33’s stay at Bogue, the group had incurred 12 pilot fatalities. Four accidents were caused by pilot inexperience. The first was previously mentioned and the other three occurred while flying instruments at night. Six pilots were killed while dive bombing. Four of them failed to pull out of the dive. The two others were the result of a midair collision in the dive. One fatality resulted from unauthorized low flying while the cause of another accident was undetermined. Of the non-fatal accidents, five aircraft landed or crashed in the sea or Bogue Sound. Two of these were caused by engine failure and three others as a result of wake turbulence while flying low level in column.
MAG 93, commissioned on April 1, took over command of MAG 33’s squadrons. The same month, the first four radar Air Warning Squadrons came to Bogue for several months of training. On May 11, the only non-dive bomber squadron, the Corsair equipped VMO-351, transferred to Bogue. VMO-351, assigned to MAG 51, was training for Project Danny. On June 1, VMSB-333 departed for the West Coast. In July VMSB-941 and VMSB-934 were commissioned as MAG 93’s mission was changed to the training of replacement pilots. Meanwhile, VMSB squadrons began receiving Curtiss SB2Cs. The Marines were quite content with SBDs; however, Douglas ceased production of the Dauntless in August 1944, and the Marines would have to learn how to get along with the SB2C. In September, VMO-351 transferred to the West Coast leaving MAG 93’s squadrons training replacement pilots in the SB2C. From the first of 1945 to the end of the war, VMSB-933 and 934 remained on board with sixty aircraft.
Navy vessels from Morehead City provided sea rescue for Bogue’s over-water flights. A J2F Duck was assigned to Bogue for a short time, but the aircraft was not suitable for rough open sea landings. Recovering aircraft forced down in Bogue Sound was another problem. Shallow water prevented the use of large barges and heavy cranes for recovering downed aircraft. A 16 x 30-ft. shallow-draft barge with a 1,500 lb. capacity tractor crane was used to recover crashed or ditched aircraft. Due to the crane’s low lifting capacity, aircraft incurred considerable damage during the salvage operation and usually resulted in being stricken. On one occasion, the pilot and the gunner of an SBD bailed out after the aircraft entered an inverted spin at the top of an attempted loop. They landed in a swamp and hiked out with some difficulty. A rescue party, sent into the swamp to effect the rescue, found progress so slow that they had to spend the night in the swamp. A Navy blimp dropped emergency rations, but was unable to take the party aboard. As a result of this incident, jungle survival kits were provided for future rescue and salvage parties.
Following the end of the war, Bogue decommissioned, becoming an OLF of Cherry Pt. In 1958, the Marine’s first Short Airfield for Tactical Support or SATS was installed at Bogue. SATS is a catapult and arresting gear system much like an aircraft carrier’s allowing jet aircraft to operate from short runways. Today, Bogue is used by aircraft from Cherry Pt. for FCLPs and training with SATS.
I was assigned to MABS-24, MAG-24 in early 1967 when I returned from Futemna, Okinawa. SSgt Frank Jackson was NCOIC, I was a young Sergeant. We had two Staff Sergeants, two Sergeants, and a hand full of Corporals and below. The OIC was one of the pilots at Operations. We worked out of two hard back tents on the sound side of the main runway that had a catapult and an arresting gear midfield. There were also two other arresting gears that were uses as abort gears. I couldn’t tell you what type they were. Vehicle wise we operated a Mormon-Harrington MB-5 and a Biedermen MB-1. We started receiving refurbished MB-5 (American LaFrance I thing) that had been the old stick shifts and were converted to automatic transmissions during the refurbishing.
While I was there, MAG-24 was transferred to Hawaii and MAG-14 assumed control of Bogue opearations. Most of the MABS-24 folks were tranferred to MABS-14. If I remember right, that was in the later part of ’67 early ’68.
Just prior to my leaving, in summer of ’68, a Reserve Engineer unit came in and built a single stall barn with attached bunkroom, dispatch office, and office of the NCOIC.
I too enjoyed my time at Bogue, but I’ll be darned if I can remember any of those fine young Marines names that worked with/for me then. I must have just missed meeting Mr. Dossin then.
Bob G. Willis,
MGySgt USMC Retired.
Don’t have much Bogue history as I would avoid that place like the plague.
Saw too many accidents with the CATs and too many screwed up- XXXs and XXXX’s
In 1968 and 1969, MABS-31 and MABS-32 at MCAS Beaufort would alternate between a month on the runway at Beaufort and month at Bogue Clearing Trees for the second Cat. In 1968-69 Bogue folks would also let us operate the gear at the end of each month. I was an F-8 Holdback guy as I was once long and skinny. Our OIC was Capt then CWO-2 Delbert Bullock. I only made the trip two times as I was then canned to Crash Crew as we had too many 7011’s and not enough 7051s. I was then PFC Dossin for two years.
Thanks for the memory trip.
I was the Mabs 14/Mag 14 Weather Officer from June 1978 until October 1983.
I went there straight out of WO school and left there to go to Cherry Point to MWSG as the Wing Weather Officer in 1983. I have a “Bogue Rat” plaque on my wall which I treasure. I had the pleasure of serving with CWO Jim Casey, Sgt Mike Cernoch on that list below and many others that I consider great Marines as well as friends. I would like to see this website. Does anyone have a list of Bogue alumni?
Henry C. Harris, ret in 1994
General Bits of Information
Bogue Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field (NJM), Emerald Isle, NC
34.69 North / 77 West (Southwest of Morehead City, NC)
“Bogue Sound (Navy)”, as depicted on the September 1943 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The Navy purchased 573 acres of land in 1942 for an auxiliary airfield for the use of MCAS Cherry Point.
No airfield was yet depicted at Bogue on the August 1942 14M Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The earliest depiction of the Bogue airfield which has been located was on the September 1943 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It labeled the field as “Bogue Sound (Navy)”.
Three 4,000′ runways were built, along with facilities intended to support two squadrons with a total of 45 aircraft. Initial accommodations were constructed for a total of 1,050 personnel.
During WW2, Bogue was used almost exclusively by Marine Corps VMSB dive-bombing squadrons. The first squadron, VMSB-311, moved to Bogue from New River in 1943, equipped with the SBD Dauntless. By late 1943, Marine Air Group 33 was located at Bogue.
To support the training of the resident dive-bombing squadrons, specialized training facilities were established in the surrounding area. Dive-bombing circle targets were constructed on nearby islands, and vertical targets were built for low-level bombing practice. A maneuvering target boat was also used on the Neuse River to practice attacks on shipping.
MAG-33 transferred to Eagle Mountain Lake, TX in 1944, and MAG-93 was commissioned at Oak Grove in the same year. By that point, Marine Corps dive-bombing squadrons were transitioning to the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver.
A J2F Duck amphibian was assigned to Bogue for the rescue of downed flyers, but it was proven unsuitable for open-sea landings.
“Bogue (Navy)”, as depicted on the April 1945 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
Bogue was decommissioned at the end of WW2, and became an Outlying Field of Cherry Point. The Marines’ first Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) system was installed at Bogue in 1958.
It was a deployable catapult & arresting system, intended to permit jet aircraft to operate from short expeditionary airfields.
The airfield was labeled “OLF Bogue (Navy) (Closed)” on the 1965 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss). The Aerodromes table on the chart described the field as having three asphalt runways, with the longest being 4,000′.
At some point between 1965-76, Bogue was reopened by the Marine Corps as a satellite airfield for aircraft & helicopters from MCAS New River & MCAS Cherry Point. “MCALF Bogue” was once again depicted as an active airfield on the November 1976 CG-21 World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
As of 2003, Bogue is still actively used as a satellite airfield. One runway is still maintained (5/23, 4,010 ft long), along with the painted outline of the deck of an LHA amphibious assault ship, used for carrier landing practice. The remains of two other runways still exist. The Airport Facility Directory includes the remark, “Runway 18 utilized for catapults only.”
In 2013, the LHA was converted to an LHD configuration still using the AM-2 matting surface.