VFA-15

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Strike Fighter Squadron 15
Strike Fighter Squadron 15 (US Navy) insignia c2008.png
VFA-15 insignia
Active 10 January 1942–present
Country United States
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Fighter/Attack
Role Close air support
Air interdiction
Aerial reconnaissance
Part of Carrier Air Wing Eight
Garrison/HQ NAS Oceana
Nickname(s) Valions
Motto(s) None Finer
Tail Code AJ
Engagements Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Commanders
Commanding Officer CDR Matt "Disney" Stevenson
Executive Officer CDR. William "Fathead" Mathis
Aircraft flown
Attack Douglas TBD Devastator
Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger
Douglas A-1 Skyraider
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
Vought A-7 Corsair II
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

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.

History[edit]

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.[1] Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons. The first VA-15 was established on 10 January 1942 and disestablished on 1 June 1969.

1960s[edit]

On 1 June 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 1 August 1968. On 2 June 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.

1970s[edit]

In October–November 1973 while embarked on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, the squadron operated in the vicinity of Crete in response to the Arab-Israeli war.[2] In June–July 1976 following the assassination of the American Ambassador to Lebanon, VA-15 embarked on USS America operated in the vicinity of Lebanon in support of the evacuation of non-combatants.

1980s[edit]

In November 1980, the Valions, embarked on USS Independence were on station when the American hostages were released from Iran.[2]

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.

In October–November 1983, VA-15 aircraft flew combat close air support and reconnaissance sorties in support of Operation Urgent Fury, the landing of U.S. Marines and Army rangers on Grenada.

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.

1990s[edit]

On December 28, 1990, VFA-15 departed for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. The squadron flew daily strikes into Iraq and occupied Kuwait until the suspension of hostilities on February 28.[2]

During 1992, VFA-15 transitioned to the F/A-18C (night attack) Hornet.

A-7Es of VA-15 in 1976

In March 1999, VFA-15 departed for an historic deployment which would involve two theaters of operation. After crossing the Atlantic in record time aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, squadron 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.

2000s[edit]

During their 2001 deployment, the squadron took station in the Persian Gulf, patrolling the skies of the southern Iraqi no-fly zone.[3]

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 VFA-15 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 squadron flew four- to eight-hour missions deep into Afghanistan.

Three VFA-15 Hornets on the USS Enterprise in 2000

In 2002, VFA-15 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 squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf, returning on March 11, 2006.

September 8, 2008 the squadron deployed again to the Persian Gulf in support of "OEF". They returned April 18, 2009.

2010s[edit]

On 11 May 2011, the squadrons of CVW-8 embarked on USS George H.W. Bush'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.[4]

In February 2016, it was reported that it is planned to deactivate VFA-15 in FY 2017.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons.

Bibliography
  • 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)][1].

External links[edit]