Of coral, Seebees, and Black Sheep

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In late 1943, the 58th NMCB (Seebees) started scratching out a 3600×150-ish foot runway out of the coral of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands archipelago. This barren strip, Barakoma Airfield, was the front line of the naval war in the South Pacific for ten months. From its harsh environment operated a Navy F6F Hellcat squadron (VF-40) as well no less than five USMC Corsair squadrons to include the famous VF-214 “The Black Sheep.” The first landing at the newly built strip was September 24, 1943 by VMF-214 pilots Greg “Pappy” Boyington and Mo Fisher.

These forces were hard pressed during the Bougainville Campaign and the reduction of Rabaul.

However, once the Japanese had been pushed back towards their home islands,  Barakoma was not needed and by June 1944, had been abandoned.

It is abandoned still. Rumor is you can walk the old perimeter and find enough parts to build your own F4U from the ground up and half a Zero. Of course you have to fight the jungle for it, but still.

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