Second VA-65 (U.S. Navy)
|Attack Squadron 65|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Type||All Weather Attack|
|Colors||Orange and Black|
|Mascot||Tiger and JOBU|
Attack Squadron 65 (VA-65), nicknamed The World Famous Fighting Tigers, was an attack squadron of the United States Navy. It was the second squadron to bear the VA-65 designation. The squadron was established as Torpedo Squadron VT-74 in 1945, redesignated as VA-2B in 1946, as VA-25 on 1 September 1948, and finally redesignated VA-65 in 1959. It was disestablished in 1993. Known as "The World Famous Fighting Tigers", VA-65 was one of the last medium attack squadrons to fly the A-6 Intruder and the A-1 Skyraider.
The final home base of VA-65 was NAS Oceana, Virginia (full name Apollo Soucek Field), a Master Jet Base. The squadron occupied the spaces of Hangar 122, port side. Hangar 122 is located next to the water tower and field identifier revolving light. These spaces included maintenance areas on the hangar deck, office spaces on the second floor, and offices plus ready room on the top floor.
VA-65 is in US Navy nomenclature, a shortened acronym for ATKRON-65, this stands for Attack Squadron-65, VA is broken into V for fixed-wing, A for attack. Also called the Bombing 65th, as it was an attack [bombing squadron]. VA-65 was fleet based, meaning attached to an aircraft carrier for deployments. Their last cruise was during Desert Storm /Desert Shield in 1990–1991 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). As was common during the Gulf War, many squadrons painted "nose art" on at least one airplane. VA-65 painted a caricature of comic strip cat Garfield, with a large stick and flight helmet, with the caption, "TR's Big Stick"
VA-65 was scheduled to take part in a UNITAS cruise [started in 1959 UNITAS has been instrumental in improving working relationships among U.S. and Latin American naval forces] around the horn of South America [with multiple stops] on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the summer of 1993. Unfortunately the squadron received word it would disestablished before the cruise. In addition the aircraft carrier did a Mediterranean cruise and a short stint in the Red Sea in 1993, not an UNITAS cruise.
Reasons were budgetary in nature, as the VA-65 Tigers were flying the venerable A-6 Intruder which was being phased out in the early 1990s, and was completely removed from service in 1997. At the time, VA-65 had just won the Atlantic Fleet Battle E Award for best Attack Squadron.
Insignia and "The Beast" nickname
The squadron’s first insignia was approved by CNO on 9 August 1945. During the time when the squadron’s insignia was approved, VT-74 was flying the SB2C which was nicknamed "The Beast". Consequently, the squadron’s insignia took on the shape of a beast riding a torpedo. There is no record of the colors used for this insignia.
After VT-74 was redesignated VA-2B, it continued to use the old insignia until 17 April 1947 when CNO approved a new insignia for the squadron. The insignia adopted by VA-2B reflected the squadron’s new attack mission. The horsehead chess piece was designed to relate the squadron’s power to that of a medieval knight and the fleur-de-lis represented integrity. Colors for the insignia were: a yellow background; red scroll with yellow lettering, black banner with a black and white pole; white knight with a yellow collar; a white lightning bolt; and the Fleur-de-lis was red with a black band.
The Knight insignia continued as the official insignia for the squadron following its redesignation to VA-25 on 1 September 1948. A new insignia for VA-25 was approved by CNO on 4 April 1950. The new insignia was a front view of a tiger on the prowl. Colors were: yellow background; brown tiger with green eyes, and white teeth, whiskers and claws; and a red tongue and mouth. When VA-25 was redesignated VA-65 in 1959 the tiger insignia was retained and remained VA-65’s insignia until its disestablishment. Nickname: Tigers 1950–1993.
The final VA-65, from around the time of Desert Storm to the bitter end in 1993, had a very strong JOPA group. JOPA stands for Junior Officer Protection Association. A group only open to Lieutenants and below that are commissioned officers. Voting in secret sessions, the officers would decide on any thing, from parties to how they were going to act towards certain policies in the Navy and squadron life itself. One of the slogans of JOPA is "No Major Problems" meaning that they do not allow any Lieutenant Commanders or above in the group, as the officer insignia for an LCDR and CDR (Commander) are identical to that US Army, Air Force, and Marine: Major's oak leaf. The last Carrier Air Group VA-65 belonged to was CAG-8, and there was a JOPA edition of the CAG patch [later banned by a subsequent CAG].
Even civilians have had some contact with VA-65. On the final cruise, a "final checker" was sucked into an engine inlet, and was caught on the carrier close circuit TV. Subsequently, this video was shown on multiple TV video shows. the crew member survived, as his shoulder jammed into the "bullet" of the engine, and due to the quick thinking and training of the aircrew (pilot LT. Bill 'Gillie' Gillcrist..B/N LT Chris 'Rasta' Shay) and deck crew, they were able to shut down before he was sucked down through the blades. His cranial and radio equipment were sucked in, and destroyed the engine. Later that night bandaged and bruised he appeared on the closed circuit TV station (TR TV) on the USS Theodore Roosevelt with the boat's CO, and discussed his ordeal.
At one point VA-65's tactical call sign, used when flying, for example "Tiger 06", was something not so tactical ... it was "cupcake". It was suggested by the wife of the VA-65 commanding officer after tiger cubs were born, and one was named "cupcake". The name came back to haunt the squadron after one of its members, LTjg Tracy Thorne, declared he was a homosexual on Ted Koppel's news show, "NightLine". This was one of the first fights over service in the military by open homosexuals.
- Established as Torpedo Squadron VT-74 on 1 May 1945
- Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-2B on 15 November 1946
- Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-25 on 1 September 1948
- Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-65 on 1 July 1959
- Disestablished on 31 March 1993, at NAS Oceana, Virginia
- SWB-4E May 1945
- SB2C-4E July 1945
- SB2C-5 February 1946
- TBM-3E February 1946
- SBW-5 1946
- SNJ-4 July 1947
- AD-1 July 1947
- AD-4 1 December 1949
- AD-6/A-1H October 1953
- A-6A March 1965
- A-6B December 1968
- KA-6D 1971
- A-6E 3 May 1972
- Home ports
Location Assignment Date
- NAAF Otis Field, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts 1 May 1945
- NAS Norfolk October 1945
- NAAS Charlestown February 1946
- NAAS Oceana June 1946
- CGAS Elizabeth City 20 November 1950
- NAAS Oceana/NAS Oceana* 20 September 1951 NAAS Oceana was redesignated NAS Oceana on 1 April 1952.
Chronology of significant events
- 7 November 1945: Squadron embarked in Midway (CVB 41) see link USS Midway for her shakedown cruise. The squadron had originally been established for the purpose of being part of the Midway Air Group.
- July–August 1948: The squadron participated in operation CAMID III, close air support for amphibious landings. During this operation the squadron became the first VA unit in the Atlantic Fleet to fire Tiny Tim rockets.
- 23–24 June 1952: Attacked the Sui-ho Dam and other North Korean hydroelectric plants as part of a massive joint service operation
- 1–20 June 1961: Following a four-hour notice for an emergency deployment, VA-65 deployed to the Caribbean Sea aboard USS Intrepid due to unsettled conditions in the Dominican Republic following the assassination of General Trujillo.
- 3 August – 11 October 1962: VA-65 was aboard for the maiden cruise of the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise during her deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.
- 19 October – 6 December 1962: VA-65 was back at sea aboard Enterprise one week after returning from a Mediterranean cruise and headed for the Caribbean Sea due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The squadron participated in the naval quarantine of Cuba.
- 31 July – 3 October 1964: The squadron participated in Operation Sea Orbit as part of CVW-6 aboard Enterprise. This operation was an around-the-world voyage of a task force composed of all nuclear powered ships. The sixty-five day cruise was accomplished without logistic support, which demonstrated the capability of these ships to steam to any area in the world and project power without support.
- 15 June 1966: VA-65 conducted its first combat sortie.
- 1 July 1966: VA-65’s aircraft joined other CVW-15 aircraft in attacking and sinking three North Vietnamese patrol vessels that were approaching USS Coontzat high speed.
- 25–31 October 1966: Due to the inclement weather, the squadron’s all-weather A-6As were used to the maximum. During this period VA-65 flew 37 percent of all Yankee Team sorties in North Vietnam.
- 29 July 1967: VA-65 personnel were among those killed or injured when a flight deck explosion and fire occurred on USS Forrestal during operations on Yankee Station.
- July–December 1967: Due to the fire on the Forrestal and her departure from combat duty on Yankee Station, VA-65 sent a detachment (Det-64) to the USS Constellation to augment VA-196 for the remainder of the ship’s 1967 combat tour in Vietnam.
- May–June 1969: USS Kitty Hawk, with VA-65 aboard, relieved Enterprise in the Sea of Japan. Enterprise had been ordered to operate in the area as a result of the shoot down in April of an unarmed Navy EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft by North Korean MiGs. VA-65 conducted operations in the area during this two-month period.
- 9 September – 5 October 1970: VA-65 operated from USS Independence on Bravo Station off the coast of Israel as a result of the crisis in Jordan and the hijacking of three commercial airliners.
- 7 October – 3 November & 9–21 November 1973: After the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War (Arab-Israeli War of 1973), VA-65 operated from Independence in an area southwest of Crete and provided tanker support to fighter aircraft escorting Air Force One on Secretary of State Kissinger’s mission to Israel as well as tanker support for A-4 Skyhawks being ferried to Israel from the United States.
- 4–22 August 1974: Independence, with VA-65 embarked, operated between Crete and Cyprus in response to the crisis in Cyprus and the death of the American Ambassador to Cyprus at the hands of anti-American demonstrators.
- 12 March 1975: During exercises in the Caribbean Sea, VA-65 conducted cross-deck operations with HMS Ark Royal.
- November 1975: During the NATO exercise Ocean Safari in the North Atlantic, the squadron once again conducted cross deck operations with HMS Ark Royal.
- 1979:The first TRAMs A-6E was delivered to the Navy VA-65 was first fully operational TRAM Squadron. Do to Iranian Crisis in early 1980 4 Trams was transferred to VA-35.
- 15 April 1980: VA-65 deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Indian Ocean after Iranians took the American Embassy personnel hostage.
- 22 December 1980: VA-65 returned from its deployment that included only one port visit of five days in duration and a total of 246 days at sea.
- 1980: The year of the TIGER Spending 315 days at sea from January to December 154 day Line period .The impressive string of accomplishments that year that won the coveted award, The Rear Admiral Wade McCluskey award for the Navy's Premier Attack Squadron
- 24 June 1982: VA-65 provided support during the evacuation of American and foreign civilians from Beiruit, Lebanon.
- 7 March 1985: VA-65 and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower cut short a port visit to Palma, Spain and departed on a high speed transit to the Eastern Mediterranean due to the increased tension in Lebanon. The squadron operated in the vicinity of Lebanon until early April.
- 1 September 1986: VA-65 was assigned to CVW-13 and USS Coral Sea as part of the Coral Sea Concept whereby two A-6 Intruder squadrons would be part of the air wing and share a common aircraft maintenance department. The concept was intended to reduce the number of personnel needed to support the squadrons.
- 29 September 1987: VA-65 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard Coral Sea as the first Night Vision Goggle (NVG) capable A-6 squadron.
- August–September 1989: Coral Sea, with VA-65 embarked, was ordered to operate off the coast of Lebanon following terrorist claims to have killed an American hostage, Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins, and the capture of Sheik Obeid from Lebanon by Israeli forces. The unstable situation in Lebanon ultimately led to the evacuation of the American Embassy. Squadron aircraft flew missions in support of the evacuation.
- January–February 1990: The squadron was embarked in USS Abraham Lincoln for her shakedown cruise.
- January–February 1991: The squadron participated in Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi forces. Squadron aircraft struck targets in Iraq, Iraqi forces in Kuwait, and Iraqi naval units. The squadron was credited with the destruction (sinking) of 22 Iraqi naval vessels during the conflict.
- April–May 1991: VA-65 participated in Operation Provide Comfort, flying close air support sorties over Northern Iraq in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s mission to aid the Kurdish refugees in Iraq.
- 26 March 1993: A disestablishment ceremony (official ceremony followed by a wake at the Officer's Club) was held at NAS Oceana, it was officially disestablished on 31 March 1993.
Major overseas deployments
|Departure||Return||Air Wing||Carrier||Aircraft||Area of Operation|
|29 October 1947||11 March 1948||CVBG-1||CVB 41||AD-1||Med|
|3 May 1949||25 September 1949||CVG-2||CVB 43||AD-1||Med|
|10 January 1951||18 May 1951||CVG-6||CVB 42||AD-4||Med|
|9 January 1952||5 May 1952||CVG-6||CVB 41||AD-4||Med|
|26 August 1952||8 October 1952||CVG-6||CVB 41||AD-4||NorLant|
|1 December 1952||19 May 1953||CVG-6||CVA 41||AD-4||Med|
|4 January 1954||4 August 1954||CVG-6||CVA 41||AD-6||Med|
|9 October 1955||30 April 1956||CVG-6||CVA 39||AD-6||Med|
|3 September 1957||21 October 1957||CVG-6||CVA 11||AD-6||NorLant|
|12 February 1959||30 August 1959||CVG-6||CVA 11||AD-6||Med|
|4 August 1960||17 February 1961||CVG-6||CVA 11||AD-6||Med|
|3 August 1961||1 March 1962||CVG-6||CVA 11||AD-6||Med|
|3 August 1962||11 October 1962||CVG-6||CVAN 65||A-1H||Med|
|19 October 1962||6 December 1962||CVG-6||CVAN 65||A-1H||Carib|
|6 February 1963||4 September 1963||CVG-6||CVAN 65||A-1H||Med|
|8 February 1964||3 October 1964||CVW-6||CVAN 65||A-1H||Med/World Cruise|
|12 May 1966||3 December 1966||CVW-15||CVA 64||A-6A||WestPac/Vietnam|
|6 June 1967||15 September 1967||CVW-17||CVA 59||A-6A||WestPac/Vietnam|
|30 December 1968||4 September 1969||CVW-11||CVA 63||A-6A/B||WestPac/Vietnam|
|23 June 1970||31 January 1971||CVW-7||CVA 62||A-6A||Med|
|16 September 1971||16 March 1972||CVW-7||CVA 62||A-6A/KA-6D||NorLant/Med|
|21 June 1973||19 January 1974||CVW-7||CV 62||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|19 July 1974||21 January 1975||CVW-7||CV 62||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|15 October 1975||5 May 1976||CVW-7||CV 62||A-6E/KA-6D||NorLant/Med|
|31 March 1977||21 October 1977||CVW-7||CV 62||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|16 January 1979||13 July 1979||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|15 April 1980||22 December 1980||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||IO|
|20 August 1981||7 October 1981||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||NorLant|
|5 January 1982||13 July 1982||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|27 April 1983||2 December 1983||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|8 May 1984||20 June 1984||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Carib/NorLant|
|10 October 1984||8 May 1985||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Med|
|8 July 1985||22 August 1985||CVW-7||CVN 69||A-6E/KA-6D||Carib|
|29 September 1987||28 March 1988||CVW-13||CV 43||A-6E||Med|
|31 May 1989||30 September 1989||CVW-13||CV 43||A-6E||Med|
|28 December 1990||28 June 1991||CVW-8||CVN 71||A-6E||Med/Red Sea/Persian Gulf|
Air Wing Assignments
|Air Wing Tail Code||Assignment Date|
|CVG-74||1 May 1945|
|CVBG-1* M||15 November 1946|
|CVG-2† M||1 September 1948|
|CVG-6 C||August 1950|
|CVG-6 AF‡CVG-6/CVW-6§ AE§ RCVW-4 AD||1 January 1965|
|COMFAIRNORFOLK||5 June 1965|
|CVW-15 NL||20 February 1966|
|COMFAIRNORFOLK||3 December 1966|
|CVW-17 AA||22 December 1966|
|COMFAIRNORFOLK||15 September 1967|
|CVW-7 AG||February 1970|
|CVW-13 AK||1 September 1986|
|CVW-8 AJ||30 October 1989|
- * CVG-74 was redesignated CVBG-1 on 15 November 1946.
- † CVBG-1 was redesignated CVG-2 on 1 September 1948.
- ‡ CVG-6’s tail code was changed from C to AF in the latter part of 1957. The effective date was most likely the beginning of FY 58 (1 July 1957).
- § CVG-6’s tailcode was changed from AF to AE sometime in the latter part of 1962. Carrier Air Groups (CVG) were redesignated Carrier Air Wings (CVW) on 20 December 1963, hence, CVG-6 became CVW-6.
|Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award|
|Navy Battle E Ribbon|
|1 July 1951||30 June 1952|
|1 July 1959||30 June 1960|
|1 October 1977||30 September 1978|
|1 October 1979||30 September 1980|
|1 January 1984||31 December 1984|
|1 January 1991||31 December 1991|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|24 October 1962||21 November 1962|
|15 May 1969|
|25 May 1969||27 May 1969|
|5 June 1969|
|7 June 1969||15 June 1969|
|25 June 1969|
|6 June 1983||14 June 1983|
|27 July 1983||30 August 1983|
|1 September 1983||19 October 1983|
|27 October 1983||20 November 1983|
|Meritorious Unit Commendation|
|9 September 1970||5 October 1970|
|30 March 1988||30 September 1989|
|Navy Expeditionary Medal|
|29 April 1980||16 July 1980|
|22 July 1980||8 December 1980|
|25 May 1983||27 May 1983|
|Navy Unit Commendation|
|12 May 1966||3 December 1966|
|15 January 1969||27 August 1969|
|29 April 1980||10 December 1980|
|21 July 1983||20 November 1983|
|27 October 1984||24 April 1985|
|17 January 1991||7 February 1991|
|Vietnam Service Medal|
|14 June 1966||13 July 1966|
|27 July 1966||31 August 1966|
|8 September 1966||1 October 1966|
|19 October 1966||9 November 1966|
|23 July 1967||30 July 1967|
|12 August 1967|
|27 January 1969||1 March 1969|
|12 March 1969||5 April 1969|
|17 April 1969||10 May 1969|
|28 June 1969||15 July 1969|
|27 July 1969||16 August 1969|
|Kuwait Liberation Medal|
|7 January 1991||28 February 1991|
|Southwest Asia Service Medal
(includes Desert Storm)
|14 January 1991||20 April 1991|
|Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation|
|5 April 1991||16 July 1991|
- * The award covers the competitive year 1948.
- † The award covers the competitive year 1967.
- Grossnick, Roy A. (1995). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 1, Chapter 2, Section 5: Attack Squadron Histories for VA-64 to VA-75. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. pp. 115–119. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
- The Intruder Association
- The Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center
- The National Museum of Naval Aviation
- Global Aircraft Site
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Attack Squadron 65 (United States Navy).|
- List of A-6 Intruder operators
- History of the United States Navy
- List of inactive United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons