MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA-242) announced a new motto, ‘Victory by Dawn,’ following a transition from F/A-18 Hornets to F-35B Lightning II aircraft during a squadron hike, Nov. 13, 2022.
While the foundations, principles, and mission of VMFA-242 remains the same, the new motto encompasses the squadron’s future direction. Every Marine within the squadron was afforded the opportunity to provide direct input into the changed motto.
The new motto, ‘Victory by Dawn,’ symbolizes a shift to the cutting edge 5th generation stealth fighter platform, while maintaining the strong legacy of the squadron.
We took a poll across the squadron, and tried to piece all the suggestions together to find a common thread amongst all of them, said Lt. Col. Alexander Mellman, the commanding officer of VMFA-242.
The old motto “Death from the Darkness” encapsulated the focus employed by the squadron during the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terrorism. This mindset was carried on throughout the development and redesign of VMFA-242, and heavily influenced the new motto.
According to Mellman, the question held in every Marine’s mind was “How do we rebrand the squadron but still keep an homage to what the motto was beforehand, and what the job of VMFA-242 was all through its lineage?”
Commissioned on July 1, 1943, VMFA-242 has been involved in major conflicts throughout its many years of service. The battle of Iwo Jima during WWII, the Vietnam War, and the countless operations during the Global War on Terrorism are just a few notable engagements in which VMFA-242 took part.
This squadron has participated in every theater of war, every major combat operation since WWII, said Mellman. Due to our geographical proximity being stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, our squadron serves as a first response force in the Indo-Pacific.
“Mors ex tenebris,” a Latin phrase meaning “Death from the Darkness.” Previously used as a motto to highlight VMFA-242’s mission to locate, attack, and destroy surface targets, intercept and destroy enemy aircraft, and to provide electronic warfare support. The squadron, which continues to be referenced as the “Bats,” is located in the Indo-Pacific region, and is part of Marine Aircraft Group 12 based out of Iwakuni, Japan.
Since their transition to the F-35B Lightning II aircraft, VMFA-242 participated in multiple exercises across the Indo-Pacific, from Korea, Alaska, and Australia. The squadron worked with over 10 different allied and partner nations, and participated in a wide variety of military training exercises.
“The squadron learned both technique and tactic-sharing amongst the pilots,” Mellman said. “How the jets behave in different climates, whether that’s really cold in Alaska, or really hot and uncomfortable in Australia.”
On October 3, 2021, VMFA-242 successfully conducted the first ever landing of two F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard the Japanese Ship Izumo. Following a series of modifications to the JS Izumo to enable short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations, a capability that the “B” variant of the F-35 specializes in, U.S. Marines embarked aboard the JS Izumo and worked directly with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel as part of a bilateral effort to ensure the capability test was both effective and safe.
“VMFA-242 and VMFA-121 are the only Marine Corps F-35s that are here permanently deployed in the Pacific; we’re the first to react, first to respond, and first to defend.” Mellman said.