VFA-143

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Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Three
Fighting 143.jpg
VFA-143 Insignia
Active July 20, 1950
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Fighter/Attack
Role Close air support
Air interdiction
Aerial reconnaissance
Part of Carrier Air Wing Seven
Garrison/HQ NAS Oceana
Nickname "Pukin Dogs"
Motto Sans Reproache
Engagements Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Operation Pierce Arrow
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Enduring Freedom
Decorations FFARP trophy
Tactical Reconnaissance trophy
Battle Efficiency "E", 1990
Battle Efficiency "E", 2010
Battle Efficiency "E", 2013
Joseph C. Clifton Award
Aircraft flown
Fighter F/A-18 Super Hornet

Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143), also known as the "Pukin Dogs", are a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The Pukin Dogs are an operational fleet squadron and flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. They are currently attached to Carrier Air Wing Seven and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).[1] They are currently at their homeport of NAS Oceana. Their radio callsign is Taproom.

Insignia and nickname[edit]

The squadron adopted its current insignia in 1953, a winged black lion (or a mythical Griffin) on a blue shield. The distinctive squadron name "Pukin' Dogs" came about when the squadron commander's wife saw the creature’s droopy head and gaping mouth design. She stated, in front of the squadron pilots, that it looked like a "pukin' dog." The pilots loved that, and the name stuck.[2] In the politically correct aftermath of the Tailhook scandal in 1991, the squadron was forced to officially rename itself the "Dogs". This official banishment was widely ignored until Admiral John Mazach, Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, rescinded the policy in a 1996 speech to the squadron.

History[edit]

Two Navy squadrons have held the designation VF-143. The first was established on 20 July 1950 as VF-821, and redesignated VF-143 on 4 February 1953. This squadron was disestablished on 1 April 1958. The second VF-143 was established in 1950, was eventually redesignated VFA-143, and is the subject of this article.

1950s[edit]

VF-871 F4U-4 Corsair aboard USS Essex in 1952

VFA-143 began as VF-871, a reserve F4U-4 Corsair squadron based at NAS Alameda called to active duty on 20 July 1950. The squadron deployed twice during the Korean War, flying from the aircraft carriers USS Princeton (CV-37) and USS Essex (CV-9). On 4 February 1953, the squadron was redesignated VF-123 and transitioned to the F9F-2 Panther. In April 1958 they transitioned to the F3H Demon and were redesignated VF-53.

F3H-2s of VF-53, 1961.

1960s[edit]

On 20 June 1962, the unit was redesignated VF-143 and began its transition to the F-4 Phantom. They deployed seven times during the Vietnam War. The squadron was credited with the downing of the first MiG-21 in 1967, lead by R.M. Hooper LtCmdr; call sign: "Pacer".

1970s[edit]

The last VF-143 Vietnam deployment commenced in September 1972 with Carrier Air Group (CAG) 14 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65). On the last day of official American hostilities, a squadron Phantom was struck by AAA fire near Quang Tri while performing one of the last combat missions of the war. Executive Officer, Cmdr Harley Hall and his RIO ejected near the coast and both were seen alive on the ground by their wingman. Hall's RIO was captured by North Vietnamese and returned from captivity a few months later. Cmdr Hall became the last Naval Aviator listed as Missing in Action (MIA). Two weeks after the shoot down, however, his status was changed from MIA to "Prisoner of War (POW), authenticated", a designation held until he was declared deceased in February 1980.

VF-143 and VF-142 F-4Js on USS Constellation, 1969/70.

The squadron returned to NAS Miramar in June 1973, and three months later made a final Phantom deployment to the Mediterranean. In 1974 VF-143 transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat and then changed homeport to NAS Oceana in 1976. VF-143, along with sister squadron VF-142, were aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) for her maiden voyage in 1979.

1980s[edit]

In 1980 VF-143 deployed to the Indian Ocean in response to the Iran-Iraq war, setting a Navy underway record of 153 days. VF-143 soon gained Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) capability, and provided the first time imagery of the new Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk and the new Soviet Slava class cruiser. On August 5, 1983, VF-143 intercepted five Libyan MiG-23s some 220 kilometers south of Eisenhower in the Mediterranean Sea. No weapons were fired during these encounters but the situation was "very tense".[3] The Pukin’ Dogs became the first to fly combat TARPS missions when they flew 45 combat reconnaissance sorties over Lebanon in the autumn of 1983.

1990s[edit]

A F-14B Tomcat from VF-143 over Pyramid Lake.

VF-143 was one of the first squadrons to deploy with the F-14A(+) (later renamed F-14B), in March 1990 aboard Eisenhower.[2] When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Eisenhower and her battle group rushed to the Red Sea to deter the Iraqis from further advancement into Saudi Arabia. In late August, USS Saratoga (CV-60) relieved Ike.

In early 1991, VF-143 was awarded COMNAVAIRLANT’s 1990 Battle Efficiency Award as the Atlantic Fleet’s finest fighter squadron. In addition, VF-143 was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Rear Admiral Joseph C. Clifton Award. In May 1991 during the Air Wing’s detachment to NAS Fallon, VF-143 dropped air-to-ground ordnance for the first time. In September, the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf, and participated NATO exercises in the Norwegian Sea.[2]

In August 1992, the Pukin’ Dogs and the rest of CVW-7 switched aircraft carriers to the USS George Washington (CVN-73), the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. VF-143 deployed for Washington’s maiden cruise and then again for the carrier’s first Mediterranean Sea deployment in May 1994 where she took part in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day invasion and Operation Deny Flight. The VF-143 was awarded the 1994 Battle E, Safety S, Joseph C. Clifton and Golden Wrench awards.[2]

VF-143 F-14 tail markings

In December 1994, the VF-143 completed departed on their second deployment in fifteen months, operating in support of Operation Decisive Endeavour and Operation Southern Watch. The squadron provided TARPS, Forward Air Controller, air superiority and air-to-ground missions. VF-143 returned to Oceana in July 1996.[2]

In early 1997, VF-143 transitioned to the Navy's newest carrier, the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), deploying in 1998. The maiden deployment took them to the Persian Gulf, spending 131 days there in support of Operation Southern Watch. VF-143 played key roles using LANTIRN, night vision goggles and digital TARPS. VF-143 was recognized by COMNAVAIRLANT with the 1998 Battle “E” Safety "S" awards.[2]

2000s[edit]

2005: transition from the F-14B to the F/A-18E

VF-143 deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Phase II. The last deployment with the F-14 was in 2004 aboard George Washington in support of Iraqi Freedom, during which time the squadron participated in strikes over Fallujah between April 28-April 29.[4]

In 2005 VF-143 transitioned to the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and was designated Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143).

The first deployment with the F/A-18E commenced in 2006 and ended in the spring of 2007. During the cruise aboard Eisenhower, VFA-143 supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and operations off the Somali coast.[5]

On February 21, 2009 VFA-143 and CVW-7 embarked aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) for a deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf.[6] On March 21, 2009 it was reported that USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) was relieved by "Ike".[7] On 30 July 2009, the Eisenhower returned to Naval Station Norfolk after almost a six month deployment.[8]

2010s[edit]

F/A-18E Super Hornet takes off from the USS Eisenhoer

VFA-143 and the rest of CVW-7 embarked on board the USS Eisenhower on January 2, 2010 for a seven-month deployment in support of 5th and 6th Fleet operations.[9]

On the morning of May 27, 2011 a diamond formation of four F-18E Super Hornets from the squadron overflew the Graduation of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 then underway at the Academy's Navy - Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The announcer identified the aircraft as being from VFA-143, 'The World Famous Pukin' Dogs' based at Oceana Naval Air Station. VF-143 flew in lieu of the Blue Angels, who were originally scheduled for the overflight, but they were undergoing a safety stand-down due to a lower-than-normal maneuver performed at the Lynchburg Regional Airshow at Lynchburg, VA on Sunday, May 22.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carrier Air Wing 7 Begins OEF Missions
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR THREE [VFA-143]". US Navy. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  3. ^ Libyan Wars, 1980-1989, Part 3 - Operation "Manta" By Tom Cooper
  4. ^ Tony Holmes (2005). US Navy F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Osprey Publishing Limited. - Ongoing Operations, page 87
  5. ^ CVW-7 Sailors Complete an Eight-Month Deployment
  6. ^ - Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Deploys
  7. ^ Eisenhower Launches OEF Sorties
  8. ^ Prince, Adam (22 February 2009). "Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Deploys". USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Retrieved 2009-02-23. [dead link]
  9. ^ "IKE Strike Group Deploys". United States Navy. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 

See also[edit]