|Strike Fighter Squadron 15|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Close air support
|Part of||Carrier Air Wing Eight|
|Engagements||World War II
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
A-7B Corsair II
The VFA-15, Strike Fighter Squadron 15 is a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron based at NAS Oceana. Their call sign is Pride, tail code is AJ, and they fly the F-18 Hornet. Their nickname is Valions and their mottos are Pugna Ama Arma Ferre and None Finer.
Fighter Squadron FIFTEEN will prepare to forward deploy and, when directed, lethally project power from the sea in America's defense. Our people are our most valuable resource, so we are committed to ensuring the safe return of our squadron.
Two distinct squadrons have been called the Valions of VA-15/VFA-15. Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation. Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons.
1940s – The first VA-15
The squadron initially flew the TBD Devastator and was assigned to protect the sea lanes between Bermuda and Newfoundland from their homeport of Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In August 1942, VT-4 transitioned from the Devastator to the TBF/TBM Avenger. The Valions were aboard the Ranger when it escorted the RMS Queen Mary, with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill aboard, to the Quebec Conference in August 1943. From August to November 1943, VT-4, while deployed aboard Ranger, operated as part of the British Home Fleet. On October 4, 1943, the squadron participated in Operation Leader and struck at shipping targets around Kunna Head, Norway. The squadron’s TBF-1 Avengers, along with its escort of F4F Wildcats, destroyed a German freighter and a small coaster and damaged a troop transport. In October 1943, VT-4, flying from Ranger, operated with the British Second Battle Squadron and patrolled the waters of the Norwegian Sea. In July 1944, VT-4 transferred from Atlantic to Pacific Fleet. On September 21, 1944 during a pre-dawn sortie, three of the squadron’s aircraft collided with each other, resulting in the loss of nine personnel, including the squadron’s commanding officer. From November 4–17, 1944, VT-4 was temporarily embarked on USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) for operations in support of landings at Leyte. The squadron participated in combat strikes at Ormoc Bay, Cavite and Clark Field. In December 1944, the squadron participated in combat operations in support of landings on Mindoro. In January 1945 while operating from USS Essex (CV-9), the squadron struck targets on Formosa, Luzon, Hainan and the Ryukyu Island chain as well as in French Indochina (Vietnam). Operations in Vietnam were around Saigon and Camranh Bay. These operations were in support of the continued assault against the Japanese in the Philippines. On February 16, 1945 the squadron conducted its first strikes against the home islands of Japan, hitting Mawatari airfield on Honshu. From February 19–22, 1945, the squadron provided support for the Battle of Iwo Jima. On March 1, 1945, the airfield, facilities and shipping on Okinawa were hit by squadron aircraft. On March 4, 1945, VT-4 disembarked from Essex at Ulithi completing the squadron’s last combat cruise during World War II. VT-4 returned to NAS Alameda in April 1945.
In the closing months of World War II, VT-4 moved to San Diego and was redesignated Attack Squadron VA-2A on November 15, 1946. On August 2, 1948, the squadron’s designation was changed to VA-15. Then in March 1949, it moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida and transitioned to the AD Skyraider.
On May 22, 1950, VA-15 was designated as training squadron, with the primary mission of training fleet pilots in attack aircraft. VA-15’s training syllabus emphasized glide bombing, dive-bombing, rocket firing, day-and-night tactics and carrier qualifications in the AD Skyraider.
On September 19, 1951, the CNO approved the current insignia, which was a modification of an earlier one depicting a lion riding a torpedo. The lion was retained to represent the strong attack capabilities of the squadron and the torpedo was replaced by a missile. In February 1955 while deployed aboard USS Midway (CV-41), the squadron supported the evacuation of Chinese Nationalist civilians and military personnel from the Dachen Archipelago which were being bombarded by the People’s Republic of China. In November–December 1956 as a result of the Suez Crisis, VA-15 deployed aboard USS Forrestal (CV-59) and operated in the vicinity of the Azores.
On September 12, 1958, VA-15 was assigned the additional mission of Aerial refuelling.
1960s – The second VA-15
Although scheduled to transition to the A-6 Intruder, VA-15 transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk in 1965. Having completed the transition, the squadron deployed April 4 – November 21, 1966 aboard the USS Intrepid to Southeast Asia. On May 15, 1966, it flew its first combat mission since March 1945.
On June 1, 1969 the first VA-15 was disestablished, and the men and equipment were merged with Attack Squadron 67 (VA-67), which had been established on August 1, 1968.
On the following day (June 2, 1969), the combined squadron was redesignated VA-15 and adopted the insignia and traditions of the Valions. In August 1968, the squadron began training under VA-174 in the A-7 Corsair II.
In October–November 1973 while embarked in USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), the squadron operated in the vicinity of Crete in response to the Arab-Israeli war. In June–July 1976 following the assassination of the American Ambassador to Lebanon, VA-15 embarked on USS America (CV-66) operated in the vicinity of Lebanon in support of the evacuation of non-combatants.
In May 1981Independence transited the Suez Canal and maintained station in the eastern Mediterranean due to the crisis between Israel and Syria following Israeli raids against Syrian surface-to-air missile sites in Lebanon.
On December 4, 1983 in response to hostile fire against U.S. reconnaissance aircraft from Syrian positions in Lebanon, VA-15 aircraft participated in coordinated strikes against Syrian radar, communications and artillery positions overlooking the Multi-National Peacekeeping Forces. One of the squadron’s A-7E Corsair IIs, flown by the Air Wing Commander, Command Edward Andrews, was lost when it was hit by a Syrian surface-to-air missile. Commander Andrews ejected, was rescued and returned to Independence.
From December 1985 to June 1986 the squadron was assigned to MAG-12, 1st Marine Air Wing for a six-month deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. This deployment was designed to test the enhanced interoperability between Marine and Navy squadrons, with emphasis on close air support for Marine ground operations and the sharing of other techniques used by both communities.
In June 1986, the Valions began transition training in the F/A-18 Hornet, and on October 1, 1986, VA-15 was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron 15 (VFA-15). The Valions accepted their first F/A-18 Hornet in January 1987.
On December 28, 1990, the Valions departed for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. The Valions flew daily strikes into Iraq and occupied Kuwait until the suspension of hostilities on February 28.
During 1992, the Valions transitioned to the F/A-18C (night attack) Hornet.
In March 1999, the Valions departed for an historic deployment which would involve two theaters of operation. After crossing the Atlantic in record time aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Valion aircraft were launched in support of Operation Allied Force. For the next thirteen weeks, VFA-15 flew over 1,100 combat sorties over Kosovo to bring an end to Serbian ethnic cleansing. The battle group then steamed to the Persian Gulf and supported Operation Southern Watch. Upon their return, the Valions made a homeport change to NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia due to the closure of NAS Cecil Field.
During the Valions' 2001 deployment, the squadron took station in the Persian Gulf, patrolling the skies of the southern Iraqi no-fly zone.
Soon after returning through the Strait of Hormuz in early fall 2001 to begin the voyage home, the September 11, 2001 attacks unfolded. For the next four weeks the Valions took station in the North Indian Ocean and prepared for combat, with flight operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, including combat air patrols over Pakistan. Missions into Afghanistan began on October 7, and over the next several weeks the Valions flew four– to eight-hour missions deep into Afghanistan.
In 2002, the Valions deployed on Theodore Roosevelt to the Mediterranean. In combat operations against Iraqi military facilities, air defense sites and terrorist camps from March 19 to April 15, 2003, the squadron delivered over 245,000 pounds of ordnance.
September, 2005 the Valions deployed to the Persian Gulf, returning on March 11, 2006.
September 8, 2008 the Valions deployed again to the Persian Gulf in support of "OEF". They returned April 18, 2009.
On May 11, 2011, the squadrons of CVW-8 embarked on USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)'s maiden deployment, scheduled to conduct operations in the US 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. Upon return from deployment, the Valions were awarded the Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Battle "E" Award as the dominant Strike Fighter Squadron on the East Coast.
- Naval aviation
- Modern US Navy carrier air operations
- List of military aircraft of the United States (naval) / List of US Naval aircraft
- United States Naval Aviator
- United States Marine Corps Aviation
- Military aviation
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- Thomas, Gerald W. Torpedo Squadron Four: a Cockpit View of World War II. Las Cruces, New Mexico: Rio Grande Historical Collection (New Mexico State University), 1991 (2nd impression, with corrections; first published July 1990).
- [Thomas, Gerald W. Torpedo Squadron Four: a Cockpit View of World War II. Doc45 Publications, 2011 (Revised Edition)].