MARINES TRAINED AT MANTEO: VMF-511Most people living on the Outer Banks don't even realize that Marines actually trained in our area—on Roanoke Island!
Marine Fighting Squadron Five-Eleven (VMF-511) was commissioned under the command of Major Robert C. Maze on 1 January 1944 at Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Field Oak Grove, North Carolina.
In mid-April of 1944 the squadron was transferred to Simmons-Knott Field, North Carolina where training continued. During July 1944 the squadron pilots were ordered to Naval Air Station Boca Chica, Florida, Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island and Naval Auxiliary Air Field Manteo, North Carolina for training in the use of the 11.5-inch "Tiny Tim" aircraft rockets in preparation for Project "Danny," a plan to knock out the German V-1 launching sites in Europe. When this operation was cancelled, the pilots of VMF-511 resumed their routine training syllabus until they received orders for movement to the west coast. Arriving at Mojave, California during September of 1944 with their F4U Corsairs, the squadron was re-designated VMF(CVS)-511 the following month and trained in flight operations aboard aircraft carriers. Receiving orders for deployment to the Pacific Ocean Area, the squadron embarked aboard the USS Block Island and departed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Territory on 20 March 1945.
Following their arrival at Pearl Harbor, the squadron remained aboard the USS Block Island and sailed for the waters off Okinawa shortly thereafter. During May and June of 1945 VMF(CVS)-511 flew combat missions in support of operations on Okinawa. It was during these operations on 27 May 1945 that Major Maze was killed when he attacked several small Japanese ships off Ishigaki Island and was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Although his aircraft crashed in shallow water, no trace of Major Maze or his aircraft was ever found. With the loss of Major Maze, the squadron continued operations off Okinawa under the leadership of Captain James L. Secrest, who served as its commanding officer for the remainder of the war.
Following the conclusion of the Okinawa campaign the USS Block Island sailed for the waters around Indonesia where VMF(CVS)-511 flew in support of the landings at Balikpapan. Still aboard the USS Block Island when the Second World War ended, VMF(CVS)-511's final missions were flown in support of the Japanese surrender of Formosa.