#1493 F/A-18C Hornet
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Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 1493 - 164881 '401', F/A-18C Hornet, VMFA-323, MAG-11, MCAS Miramar, California. Marine Fighter Squadron 323 was commissioned on 1 August 1943 at Cherry Point, North Carolina. The squadron adopted the nickname â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ after three VMF-323 Lieutenants killed a six foot rattlesnake and hung it in the ready room. The Squadron moved its F-4U Corsairs west in 1944, training for combat and operating out of El Centro, Camp Pendleton, and El Toro, California. After deploying aboard USS Long Island (CVE 1) in 1944, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ distinguished themselves during the Okinawa Campaign in 1945 by downing 124.5 enemy aircraft without a single aerial loss. During the Korean Conflict, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ were one of the first squadrons to arrive in Theatre, and participated in every major campaign through the end of hostilities, including the support of the Pusan Perimeter, amphibious landing at Inchon, and the Chosin Reservoir. In June 1952, the squadron was re-designated as VMA-323. In 1953, VMA-323 returned to MCAS El Toro, California and entered the jet age with the F9F-2 and F9F-5 Panther. In 1956, the Snakes were re-designated VMF-323 and shortly thereafter transitioned to the FJ-4 Fury, deploying in support of the Taiwan Straits crisis. In 1959, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ began flying the F-8U Crusader and subsequently deployed aboard USS Lexington (CV 16). During this period, the squadron was re-designated as VMF(AW)-323 and deployed twice aboard aircraft carriers. The squadron moved to Cherry Point, North Carolina in 1964 and was re-designated as VMFA-323 as they transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II. The squadron supported operations during the Dominican Crisis. In 1965, VMFA-323 again crossed the Pacific, joining the First Marine Aircraft Wing at Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. During the next three and a half years, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ spent 43 months in combat against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Armed Forces from Da Nang and Chu Lai. In March 1969, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ relocated back to MCAS El Toro where they participated in multiple exercises and deployments, including aboard USS Coral Sea (CV 43) during the Iranian hostage crisis. In 1980, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ were on airborne alert during the U.S. Embassy hostage rescue attempt in Iran. On 14 September 1982, VMFA-323 retired its last F-4N Phantom II, and officially began its transition to the F/A-18A Hornet. In April 1986, VMFA-323 took the F/A-18 Hornet into combat for the first time against highly defended targets in Benghazi, Libya in support of counterterrorism operations. From 1988 to 1990, the Snakes deployed twice to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. VMFA-323 subsequently moved to MCAS Miramar following the closure of MCAS El Toro in 1993. VMFA-323 transitioned to the F/A-18C Hornet in April 1993, deploying aboard the USS Constellation (CV 64) in the fall of 1994 and again in 1997, 1999, 2001, and late 2002 in support of Operations Southern Watch (OSW) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Snakes deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in 2005 for an around the world deployment and support of OIF. They also supported combat operations from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in 2007 and 2009 in support of OIF, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and global Maritime Security Operations. In 2011, VMFA-323 deployed aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), flying in support of combat operations for Operation New Dawn (OND) over Iraq, and Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief efforts in support of Operation Tomodachi in Japan. In 2013, the â€œDeath Rattlersâ€ deployed aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in support of OEF and national contingency tasking off the coast of Syria. The Snakes returned to Japan after a 24 year absence in 2015, deploying to Iwakuni in support of the Unit Deployment Program and participating in five joint service and theater security cooperation exercises. The Snakes deployed again aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) over Iraq and Syria. In August 2018, the Snakes celebrated their 75th anniversary at MCAS Miramar, California.