Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Guadalcanal: The Beginning of the Long Road Back
Combat in October
A New Crew at Cactus
The Battle for Guadalcanal
Cactus Victory
Post-Guadalcanal Operations
The Marine Corsair Aces of Bougainville and the Central Pacific
The First Corsair Ace
The One and Only 'Pappy'
Other Marine Aces
Marine Corps Aviators Who Received the Medial of Honor
Brigadier General Roy S. Geiger
Special Subjects
'CUB One' at Guadalcanal
The Aircraft in the Conflict
Main Types of Fighters
Japanese Pilots in the Solomons Air War
Researching the Aces' Scores

TIME OF THE ACES: Marine Pilots in the Solomons
by Commander Peter B. Mersky, U.S. Naval Reserve


Sources for this booklet fall into two basic categories: general historical publications for the overall situation in the Pacific, and references that describe specific subjects, such as aircraft, personalities, and campaigns. I found several general official and commercial publications invaluable, including LtCol Frank R. Hough, Maj Verle J. Ludwig, and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal and Henry I. Shaw, Jr. and Maj Douglas T. Kane, Reduction of Rabaul, volumes l and 2, History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, USMC, 1958 and 1963, respectively), and Robert Sherrod, History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (Novationo, California: Presidio Press, 1980). Other general histories included, Peter B. Mersky, U.S. Marine Corps Aviation, 1912-Present (Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983, 1986), Masationake Okimuya and Jiro Horikoshi, Zero! (New York: Ballantine Books, 1956), and John Lundstrom, The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1984).


Peter B. Mersky

The author would like to thank Maj Gen John P. Condon, USMC (Ret), a fighter pilot and Cactus operations officer in early 1943, for reviewing the manuscript and making thoughtful and valuable insights. Gratitude is also extended to Dan Crawford, Benis M. Frank, and Regina Strother of the Marine Corps Historical Center; Dale Connelly and Rutha Dicks of the National Archives Still Picture Branch; and Robert Mikesh, James Lansdale, Henry Sakaida, James Farmer, and Linda Cullen and Mary Beth Straight of the U.S. Naval Institute.

About the Author

Peter B. Mersky is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a baccalaureate degree in illustration. He was commissioned through the Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School in May 1968. Following active duty, he remained in the Naval Reserve and served two tours as an air intelligence officer with Light Photographic Squadron 306, one of the Navy's last F-8 Crusader squadrons.

He is the assistant editor of Approach, the Navy's aviation safety magazine, published by the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Commander Mersky has written or coauthored several books on Navy and Marine Corps aviation, including The Naval Air War in Vietnam (with Norman Polmar), U.S. Marine Corps Aviation, 1912—Present, Vought F-8 Crusader, and A History of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 321. He has written many magazine articles for American and British publications, and he also writes a regular book review column for Naval Aviation News.

insignias from 50th Anniversary

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Printing costs for this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by the Defense Department World War II Commemoration Committee. Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient of a Purple Heart.


Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)


Benis M. Frank

George C. MacGillivray

Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information Specialist;
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician, R.D. Payne, Volunteer—Web Edition

Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


PCN 190 003122 00

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division