VR-55

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Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FIVE FIVE

FLELOGSUPPRON FIVE FIVE

VR-55
55logo.jpg
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Navy Reserve Seal United States Navy Reserve
TypeFleet Logistics Support Squadron
RoleMedium Airlift
Part ofFleet Logistics Support
StationedNAS Point Mugu, California
Nickname(s)Minutemen
ColorsRed/White/Bllue
Decorations2003 Navy Unit Commendation
2005 Humanitarian Service medal - Hurricane Katrina relief effort
2011 Humanitarian Service Medal Operation Tomodachi Tsunami Relief
1996 Armed Forces Service Medal
1991 Navy E Ribbon
2004 Navy E Ribbon
2009 Navy E Ribbon
2012 Navy E Ribbon
2013 Navy E Ribbon
2017 Navy E Ribbon
1994 Meritorious Unit Commendation
2006 Meritorious Unit Commendation[1]
Flying hours175,633
WebsiteOfficial website
VR-55 on Facebook
Commanders
Commanding OfficerCDR Ronnie C. Brown
Executive OfficerCDR Pete Noel
Command Master ChiefCMDCM(AW/SW) Thomas E. Lintz
Insignia
 Tail CodeRomeo Uniform
Aircraft flown
TransportMcDonnell Douglas C-9 Skytrain
Lockheed C-130T Hercules
Lockheed KC-130T-30
Lockheed KC-130T Hercules

Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FIVE FIVE (VR-55) is a U.S. Navy C-130T squadron that provides a 24-hour logistical support to U.S. Naval forces deployed throughout the world.[2]

VR-55 has 275 Full Time Support (FTS) personnel and Selected Reservists (SELRES), including 35 pilots.

The squadron operates from the Naval airfield at Point Mugu, Naval Base Ventura County which is approximately 45 miles north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, California.[2]

A KC-130T-30 parked outside Hangar 34 at Point Mugu, Calif.

VR-55 was established in April 1976 at Naval Air Station Alameda (California). They initially used the C-9 Skytrain II and switched to the C-130 Hercules in 1993.[3] In 1998, the squadron moved from its home at Moffett Field to its current base at Point Mugu.

History[edit]

Inception, establishment and the first decade (1976-1986)[edit]

In September 1974, 30 reserve personnel from NARU Alameda and Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 30 embarked on a pilot program to gauge the feasibility of expanding Navy Reserve Air Force logistics capabilities. Dubbed the “Naval Air Reserve C-9B Transport Reinforcement Program,” the official command history noted the “harmonious interaction of regular and reserve personnel was a singular contribution with results far exceeding expectations.”[4]

The Navy’s Pacific Fleet established Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FIVE FIVE (VR-55) on 1 April 1976 at a ceremony held in its home base of NAS Alameda, California. Captain Richard Hendel, USN Ready Reserve, took command of three C-9 Skytrain aircraft and 220 personnel of the squadron that would be nicknamed “The Minutemen” due to its establishment during the United States Bicentennial celebration. The “Bicentennial Minutemen” operated the Navy’s first reserve jet squadron, conducting both logistical operations as well as pioneering the Navy’s “pathfinder” program. Utilizing its unique and technologically superior navigational capabilities, the Minutemen played a vital role in the execution of Operation Key Joint, escorting six A-6 Intruders of VA-96 from Barbers Point, Hi. to NAS Cubi point in the Philippines.[4]

In its first (partial) year of operations, the Minutemen recorded 3,030.7 flight hours, transporting 55,507 passengers and 2.8 million pounds of cargo.[4]

In 1983, VR-55 extended its mission from the Pacific Rim to reach the Mediterranean Sea and Central America. The squadron augmented EUCOM logistics for the first time in November 1983, while another detachment participated in the humanitarian Project Handclasp, transporting supplies to Honduras on 3 November.[4]

In 1986, VR-55 added VIP transport to its list of missions, carrying a DACOWITS (Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service) contingent on a 14-day fact-finding tour throughout military installations in the Western pacific. With its aircraft appointed in a relatively spartan manner, members of the command donated their own time and money to procure furnishings from a major airline special equipment sale to prepare for the luminaries. “I’ve seen Vice President Bush’s C-9, and it’s not as nice as this” remarked one committee member after the trip.[5]

A Squadron in transition (1987-2002)[edit]

The ensuing decades presented a new theme for the Minutemen: maintaining operational readiness while undergoing major transitions. The first taste of this came in October 1989, when the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged the runways and facilities at NAS Alameda. The squadron subsequently moved its operations to Oakland International Airport and managed to fly 105% of its projected flight hours for the year.[4]

The following year saw a sudden outbreak of war in the Middle East. In the span of just four days, VR-55 marshalled its resources to deploy to Sembach Air Base, Germany, in support of Operation Desert Storm.[4]

During the war, VR-55 operated planes from Germany as well as Fujaira, UAE and a maintenance detachment at NSA Souda Bay, Crete. From 26 December 1990 to 8 April 1991, the squadron achieved a 100% mission completion rate, flying 4,327 passengers and 2.8 million pounds of cargo under “the most rigorous conditions ever encountered by a VR squadron.” VR-55 earned its first Noel Davis Battle Efficiency award (“Battle ‘E’”) for the effort in 1991.[4]

During the Gulf War, VR-55 set records for the most monthly and quarterly hours flown by a squadron, logging 794 hours in January 1991 and 2,178 hours for the second quarter of FY 1991.[6]

In March 1992, the Minutemen flew a C-9 into Constanta, Romania, only the third US military aircraft ever to do so. This came as the squadron began to wind down C-9 operations to transition to the C-130T.[4]

In September 1993, VR-55 delivered the last of its C-9s to the Fleet Logistics Support Wing and took delivery of six C-130T airframes. In addition to the platform change, September also saw the Minutemen move operations from Alameda to Hangar #1 at Moffett Federal Air Field.[6]

Aircraft 165350 was one of the original six C-130Ts delivered to VR-55 in 1993

There, C-130 operations proved so vital to fleet logistics that a move to relinquish scheduling authority to a Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) was turned down in favor of Naval Air Logistics Office (NALO), which remains the scheduling authority to this day.[4]

Operational highlights of the period between Gulf Wars included the delivery of a pallet of donated toys to the children of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina the week before Christmas in 1997, operational support of the aftermath of the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 on Anacapa Island and the Navy’s first C-130 around-the-world flight in 2001.[4]

On 21 December 1998, VR-55 began yet another move, this time 350 miles south to its current home of NAS Point Mugu, Ca. at Naval Base Ventura County, just outside Oxnard and 45 miles north of Los Angeles.[6]

Modern Day (2003-present)[edit]

In April 2003, the Minutemen helped kick off Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying three planes and 13 crews. They flew 122 sorties, 937.7 hours and moved 1,040 passengers and 2.68 million pounds of cargo in theater.[4]

In September 2004, the Minutemen sent a detachment to Willow Grove, Pa. to assist in transitioning VR-64 (formerly VP-64) from the P-3 Orion to the C-130T. VR-55 donated one of its aircraft to the cause as well.

As combat flights continued in support of joint operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the focus at home turned to humanitarian crises. The Minutemen participated in efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (2005), Typhoon Melor (2009) and Tsunami relief in Haiti (Operation Unified Response, 2010) and Japan (Operation Tomodachi, 2011).[4]

In 2013, VR-55 took delivery of two KC-130T-30 aircraft, capable of flying an enhanced cargo load over the normal C-130T. This further augmented the squadron’s logistics capabilities. 2014 saw the replacement of its 3 C-130Ts with USMC KC-130T airframes.

As of the end of FY 2018, VR-55 has flown 41 years and 177,177 accident-free flight hours. The Minutemen operate five aircraft in support of operations in the Pacific, Mediterranean, Middle East, Europe, Africa, Oceania and the Americas.[6]

Commanders[edit]

No. Name Start End
1. CAPT Richard Hendel April 1976 April 1978
2. CAPT J.C. Braun April 1978 April 1980
3. CDR W. Thomas Parker April 1980 May 1981
4. CDR David J. Jeane May 1981 November 1982
5. CAPT Carlyle Bailey November 1982 May 1984
6. CDR Patrick M. Hyland May 1984 November 1985
7. CAPT Joseph W. Stella November 1985 May 1987
8. CDR Robert D. McKenzie May 1987 June 1988
9. CDR Gary Y. Oleson June 1988 November 1989
10. CDR Stephen P. Zandstra November 1989 June 1991
11. CAPT. William E. Lee June 1991 September 1992
12. CDR Ralph Rodenbaugh September 1992 July 1993
13. CDR William J. Meyer II July 1993 November 1994
14. CDR Dean W. Koehler November 1994 March 1996
15. CDR Kenneth W. Campbell March 1996 July 1997
16. CDR Brian R. Whitehurst July 1997 July 1998
17. CDR Robert Carroll Jr. July 1998 October 1999
18. CDR David J. Oeser October 1999 March 2001
19. CDR Michael L. Mahan March 2001 July 2002
20. CDR Richard S. Tedmon July 2002 June 2003
21. CDR Glen A. Saller June 2003 October 2004
22. CDR Scott S. Handler October 2004 February 2006
23. CDR Gregory J. Ralstin February 2006 June 2007
24. CDR J.S. Gorman June 2007 September 2008
25. CDR Kenneth E. Hobmann September 2009 January 2010
26. CDR Thomas Long January 2010 April 2011
27. CDR Alastair Macgregor April 2011 July 2012
28. CDR Christopher McAnally July 2012 October 2013
29. CDR Richard Thorp October 2013 December 2014
30. CDR Joel A. Fragale December 2014 August 2016
31. CDR Dan J. Pugh August 2016 June 2018
32. CDR Anthony T. Wu June 2018 September 2019
33 CDR Ronnie C. Brown September 2019 Present

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://awards.navy.mil/ Archived 2004-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "The VR-55 "Minutemen"". US Navy. April 15, 2015. Retrieved June 21, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "VR-55 Fleet Logistics Support Squadron - Alameda Naval Air Museum". Alameda Naval Air Museum. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Commander, VR-55. VR-55 Command Histories, 1976-2013 (Report).
  5. ^ "VR-55 Completes VIP Trip" (Press release). VR-55. Commander, Fleet Logistics Wing.
  6. ^ a b c d Carlson, Ted (September 1, 2005). "VR-55 Minutemen". Naval Aviation News. Navy Historical Center.