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Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (US Navy) patch.png
Active1 October 1968 – Present
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Navy Seal United States Navy
TypeAirborne Early Warning
Part ofCarrier Air Wing Five
Garrison/HQMarine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
"Torch Bearers"
EngagementsGulf of Sidra incident (1981)
Operation Thunderbolt
Action in the Gulf of Sidra (1986)
Gulf War
Operation Joint Endeavor
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Enduring Freedom
Iraq War
Commander Daniel R. Prochazka
Aircraft flown
E-2 Hawkeye

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125), known as the "Torch Bearers" or "Tigertails", was established on 1 October 1968, at Naval Air Station Norfolk. The squadron's initial supporting command was Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) deploying aboard USS Saratoga.[1]

The squadron is equipped with the E-2 Hawkeye. It was the first east coast squadron with E-2B's in 1968, among the first to operate the E-2C in 1975, receiving the E-2C 2000 in its first operational year in 2003, and the first unit to operate the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in 2014.[2]

Squadron History[edit]


Aircraft from CVW-1 in flight, including a VAW-125 E-2C Hawkeye

In December 1976, Vice Admiral Howard E. Greer, COMNAVAIRLANT, presented VAW-125 with the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle "E" for readiness, the CINCLANTFLT "Golden Anchor" Award for career retention, and the CNO Safety "S" Award. VAW-125 is believed to be the first Navy unit to win all three awards in the same year.

On 14 January 1978, the squadron suffered the loss of an aircraft (BuNo 159107) and the deaths of three aviators.[3] In June, VAW-125 took the E-2C's newest weapons system upgrade, the Advanced Radar Processing System (ARPS), to sea for the first time. The squadron then assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) in November 1979, with the squadron making their eighth Mediterranean Sea deployment, this time aboard USS Forrestal.


VAW-125 E-2C prepares to launch from USS Saratoga in 1986

While deployed in August 1981, VAW-125 participated in Freedom of Navigation (FON) Operations & Open Ocean Missile (OOM) Exercise in the Central Mediterranean Sea[4] and Gulf of Sitra,[5] during which two Libyan MiGs were destroyed after attacking Battle Group aircraft. Upon return from deployment, the squadron provided range control services for the second launch of the NASA space shuttle, STS-2, and detection and monitoring services in the first E-2C Counter-Drug tasking, Operation Thunderbolt.[1][6]

While on a routine deployment in October 1985, the squadron assisted in the successful intercept of the Egyptian airliner carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship, MS Achille Lauro. Squadron aircrew spoke directly to the hijackers, convincing them that the communications were coming from the two VF-103 AND VF-74 F-14s on their wing and persuading the airliner to divert into NAS Sigonella, Sicily.[7]

From January to March 1986, the squadron participated in "Freedom of Navigation" operations off the coast of Libya which escalated with the Action in the Gulf of Sidra in March.[1] In August 1988, the squadron deployed aboard USS Independence for an "Around the Horn" cruise to San Diego, California.


In August 1990, CVW-17 aboard USS Saratoga responded to the invasion of Kuwait by deploying to the Red Sea. VAW-125 and VAW-126 E-2Cs flew around-the-clock as the force build-up of Operation Desert Shield continued. VAW-125 flew over 890 combat hours controlling strikes on Iraqi targets while providing AEW coverage for the Red Sea Battle Group. On a 17 January 1991 strike, squadron aircrew detected two Iraqi MiG-21s threatening the strike group. Controllers vectored two VFA-81 F/A-18s toward the MiGs which recorded the only Navy fixed-wing air-to-air kills of Operation Desert Storm.[8]

In January 1994, the squadron deployed aboard USS Saratoga for her final cruise. During the deployment, the squadron joined NATO forces flying in support of Operations Deny Flight and Provide Promise. The squadron conducted operational tests of the Navy's newest Mini-DAMA Satellite Communication Suite, using this new system, the squadron, for the first time, functioned as an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC). With the decommissioning of USS Saratoga, VAW-125 and CVW-17 were deployed aboard USS Enterprise. After completing a two-month Counter-Drug assignment at NS Roosevelt Roads, the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS Enterprise in June 1996. In July, the squadron again joined NATO forces in the former Yugoslavia, this time in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. In September, USS Enterprise moved to respond to mounting tensions in Southwest Asia, supporting Operation Southern Watch over the next three months. Squadron pilots earned the CVW-17 "Top Hook" Award for carrier landing performance and the squadron was recognized for its achievements in 1996, being awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency Award, the CNO Safety Award, and the VAW community's AEW Excellence Award.[1]


VAW-125 E-2D Hawkeye flies over NAS Norfolk

Within hours of the September 11 attacks, squadron personnel were embarked at sea, leaving NS Norfolk to deploy on USS George Washington to support Operation Noble Eagle. Squadron aircraft flew numerous command and control missions in the New York City vicinity in the days following the attacks as commercial air traffic slowly resumed. During this cruise, the squadron surpassed a 32-year Class "A" mishap-free milestone with over 64,000 flight hours.[1]

In April 2003, the squadron became the first East Coast squadron to transition to the E-2C Hawkeye 2000, which boasted improved electrical and vapor cycle systems, mission computer and display stations, and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). The squadron participated in the Operational Evaluation of the AN/USG-3 airborne node of the Navy’s net-centric CEC sensor fusion system.

While deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Central Persian Gulf, North Arabian Sea, and Western Indian Ocean VAW-125 played roles in the US War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom, and operations off the coast of Somalia.


A VAW-125 E-2D Hawkeye lands at MCAS Iwakuni on 9 August 2017.

In January 2010, the squadron was deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of Operation Unified Response providing humanitarian assistance following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The squadron flew missions to provide communications relay, command and control, and general airborne radar services allowing forces afloat and ashore to distribute thousands of tons of rations, water, and medical supplies. The squadron then joined USS Carl Vinson on its trip around South America as it returned from Norfolk to its home port in San Diego.[9]

In March 2015, the squadron departed with USS Theodore Roosevelt to the Middle East as part the first deployment of Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) Carrier Strike Group.[10]

On 2 February 2017, VAW-125 arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. It replaced VAW-115 in Carrier Air Wing Five aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.[11] The squadron made its first deployment aboard Ronald Reagan from 16 May to 9 August 2017.[citation needed]

Deployments and awards[edit]

Shipborne deployments and assignments[12][edit]

Aircraft Carrier Air Wing Deployment dates
USS Saratoga CVW-3 3 deployments between March 1969 & January 1970
USS John F. Kennedy CVW-1 9 deployments between September 1970 & August 1977
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower November 1977 – December 1977
USS John F. Kennedy June 1978 – August 1977
USS Forrestal CVW-17 3 Deployments between November 1979 & November 1982
USS Saratoga 3 Deployments between April 1984 & November 1992
USS Constellation March 1993 – April 1993
USS Saratoga January 1994 – June 1994
USS Enterprise 2 Deployments between February 1996 & December 1996
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower June 1998 – December 1998
USS George Washington 2 Deployments between June 2000 & December 2002
USS John F. Kennedy June 2004 – December 2004
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVW-7 October 2006 – May 2007
USS Carl Vinson CVW-17 3 Deployments between February 2010 & May 2012
USS Theodore Roosevelt CVW-1 March 2015—February 2017
USS Ronald Reagan CVW-5 2 February 2017 to present


VAW-125 has been presented with the following unit awards and campaign medals:[13]

Ribbon Unit Award & Campaign Streamers Date's & Notes
Bronze star
Bronze star
3 Navy Unit Commendations 10 October 1985—11 October 1985
23 March 1986—29 March 1986
17 January 1991—28 February 1991
Silver star
Bronze star
7 Navy Meritorious Unit commendations 29 September 1970—31 October 1970
1 January 1976—31 December 1976
1 December 1977—1 March 1979
1 October 1981—30 June 1983
10 June 1998—10 December 1998 (to Battle Force 6th Fleet)
30 October 2006—4 May 2007 (to Eisenhower Carrier Strikegroup)
30 November 2011—23 May 2012 (to COMCARSTRKGRU1)
6 Navy "E" Ribbons 1 July 1975—30 September 1976
1 January 1985—31 December 1985
1 January 1992 – December 1992
1 January 1996—31 December 1996
1 January 2000—31 December 2000
1 January 2002—31 December 2002
Bronze star
2 Navy Expeditionary Medals 5 September 1982—10 September 1982 and
13 October 1982—5 November 1982 for Bosnia
20 January 1986—29 March 1986 for Libya
Armed Forces Service Medal 8 September 1992—13 September 1992
19 September 1992—20 September 1992
1 February 1994—10 March 1994
20 March 1994—25 March 1994
1 April 1994—6 April 1994
17 April 1994—30 April 1994
16 July 1996—21 July 1996
9 September 1996—13 September 1996
All for Bosnia
Humanitarian Service Medal To a Detachment from VAW 125
15 January 2010—1 February 2010
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal 23 October 1990—9 December 1990
6 January 1991—11 March 1991

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Global Security VAW-125". Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  2. ^ Hoarn, Steven (2014-03-31). "Tigertails Become First U.S. Navy Squadron to Operate the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye". Defense Media Network. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  3. ^ "1978 Command History" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  4. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan's Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 258. ISBN 1557509832.
  5. ^ "VAW-124 1981 Command History" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  6. ^ "Command History 1985" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-22.
  7. ^ "The Aviationist » 27 years ago today, the Achille Lauro incident: when the U.S. Navy forced an Egyptair Boeing 737 off course". The Aviationist. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  8. ^ "1991 Command History Report" (PDF). Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Milcom Monitoring Post". Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group to Depart for Middle East on Monday in First NIFC-CA Deployment". Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  11. ^ "E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Arrives in Japan". Commander, Naval Forces Japan. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. ^ "VAW-125". Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  13. ^ Archived 2004-10-14 at the Wayback Machine. Navy unit awards query accessed July 21st, 2015

External links[edit]