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Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Three
VAW-123 Screwtops.jpg
VAW-123 Insignia
Active 1 April 1967 – present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Airborne Early Warning
Part of Carrier Air Wing Three
Nickname(s) "Screwtops"
Aircraft E-2C Hawkeye
Engagements Vietnam War
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deliberate Force
Operation Southern Watch
Global War on Terror
Decorations Battle Efficiency Award (13)
Safety “S” Award (9)
Current Commander Commander Jason Chuderewicz
Aircraft flown
E-2 Hawkeye

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 (VAW-123) is based at Naval Air Station Norfolk. The "Screwtops" are an operational fleet squadron flying the E-2C Hawkeye. They are attached to Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) while deployed aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.[1]

Squadron History[edit]

The history of VAW-123 begins in 1945 with the commissioning of VC-12, officially known as Composite Squadron Twelve. VC-12 was redesignated VAW-12, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron Twelve, in 1956. The last change resulted in the establishment of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing 12 (CAEWW-12) and the commissioning of all E-2A detachments as independent squadrons.[1]


As a result of this reorganization, CAEWW-12, Detachment 59 was commissioned VAW-123 on April 1, 1967, at NAS Norfolk, Va. under the command of CDR Lucio W. Hill. The commissioning date of April 1, 1967 makes VAW-123 one of the oldest VAW Squadron in the United States Navy. In June 1967 VAW-123 set sail aboard USS Forrestal for Vietnam, thus becoming the first East Coast VAW squadron to go to war. On July 29, 1967 while serving in the Gulf of Tonkin, Forrestal suffered a huge fire with the loss of 134 crew members, many crew members injured, many aircraft destroyed and millions of dollars in damage to the ship. Forrestal could not continue to serve in the condition the fire left her. She returned to Norfolk with VAW-123 and the rest of the ship's crew and Airwing. VAW-123 had no loss of any personnel or have any personnel injured in the fire aboard Forrestal. Some of the squadrons E-2A aircraft had very minor damage from the fire and explosions aboard the ship.[1]


E-2B VAW-123 landing on USS Saratoga in 1972

Initially attached to CVW-17 aboard the USS Forrestal, the squadron became an integral part of CVW-3 aboard the USS Saratoga and remained there throughout the 1970s. In 1972 VAW-123 again made an extended cruise to Vietnam waters in the Tonkin Gulf before returning to Norfolk in 1973.[2]


E-2C VAW-123 on cat USS America, 1986

In October 1980, the squadron transferred to CVW-11 aboard the USS America. Following a 1981 Indian Ocean deployment, VAW-123 transferred to CVW-1 on 12 November 1981. Since that time, the Screwtops have made several extended Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and North Atlantic deployments as an integral part of the CVW-1/CVA-66 team, until the decommissioning of the USS America in the Spring of 1997.[1] The Screwtops have successfully met many challenging assignments and maintained a watchful eye on world events, ever ready to support national policy. The Screwtops were key participants in the 1986 Gulf of Sidra operations off the coast of Libya, and were directly involved in the first combat use of the HARM (High speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and Harpoon weapon systems.


E-2C Hawkeye of VAW-123 in flight 1991

Throughout the years, VAW-123 has consistently been at the forefront of the Airborne Early Warning community by being recipients of many awards, including eleven Battle "E's" and nine "Safety S's," the eleventh Battle "E" being awarded for 1999. Highlights of the command's history include the successful employment of the E-2C in 1973 and the first operational deployment of the E-2C ARPS (Advanced Radar Processing System) in 1978. In March 1996, the Screwtops became the first E-2 squadron on the East Coast to transition to the E-2C Group II aircraft, with its significantly upgraded avionics and engines. In November 1998, the Screwtops became the first operational squadron on the East Coast to accept delivery of the Navigation Upgrade E-2C Group II's.[1]

The Screwtops supported Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and were the only E-2 squadron to operate in both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. The Screwtops have also flown in support of Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.[1]

The Screwtops, along with the rest of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1), attached to the USS George Washington for one deployment cycle, returning home on 2 April 1998.[1]

An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the Screw Tops of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Twenty Three (VAW-123) launches from one of four steam powered catapults aboard USS Enterprise

On 18 May 1998, Carrier Air Wing One transferred off the USS George Washington, bringing the Screwtops to their a home aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. During July and August 1998, VAW-123 detached to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, in support of the United States' ongoing efforts to stem the flow of narcotics through the Caribbean.[1]

In November and December 1998, the Screwtops detached to the newly commissioned USS Harry S Truman in support of her shakedown cruise and Orange Air operations against the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group.[1]

A Grumman E-2 Hawkeye of the Screwtops lands on the USS Enterprise


Deploying in August 2003 with USS Enterprise, VAW-123 opened a new chapter in carrier aviation by being the first carrier-based Navy squadron to operate an expeditionary detachment in support of special warfare units. Under combat conditions with hostile fire in Northern Afghanistan, the squadron provided airborne command control to coalition aircraft and time sensitive targeting coordination to special operations forces for Operation Mountain Resolve. In that same deployment VAW-123 became the squadron of choice for conventional units as well as special operations forces deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.[2]

In March 2006 VAW-123 again deployed with Carrier Air Wing One and USS Enterprise in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2007, the Screwtops were called upon once again to provide expert command and control services to these operations on board Enterprise.[2]


In 2011, the Screwtops deployed with Carrier Air Wing One on a six month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. After an eight month turnaround, the Screwtops deployed once again in March 2012 for eight months with Carrier Air Wing ONE on board USS Enterprise in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, flying 562 sorties and 1,935 mishap-free flight hours.[2]

After November 2012, VAW-123 expertly provided airborne command and control to both fleet and joint assets, greatly contributing to air wing readiness while enhancing warfighting interoperability. Throughout the course of the year, the squadron participated in a variety of high profile exercises with US Air Force, British Air Force, and Air National Guard. In 2013 VAW-123 received the Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing “Top Hook" Award for having the best aircraft carrier landing grades of all East Coast E-2 squadrons.[2]

The Screwtops were deployed aboard the USS Enterprise prior to the decommissioning of the ship in 2013. The Screwtops were then transferred to Carrier Air Wing 3, which is assigned to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.[3][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Three". US Navy. Global Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "CACCLW – VAW-123 Squadron Home Page". Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  3. ^ "CVW-3 Homepage". US Navy. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 

External links[edit]