- Attack Squadron 65 (U.S. Navy)
Attack Squadron 65 (VA-65), nicknamed "The World Famous Fighting Tigers" was an attack squadron of the
United States Navyestablished in 1945 and disbanded in 1993.
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Attack Squadron 65
caption= VA-65 patch
United States Navy
type= All Weather Attack
home base= [NAS Oceana]
colors= Orange and Black
mascot= Tiger and JOBU
Korea Cuban Missile Crisis Vietnam Lebanon Desert Storm
Other Forms of Name
*ATKRON SIXTY FIVE
*World Famous Fighting Tigers
Known as "The World Famous Fighting Tigers", VA-65 was one of the last medium attack squadrons to fly the
A-6 Intruderand the A-1 Skyraider.
The final home base of VA-65 was
NAS Oceana, Virginia [full name Apollo SoucekField, a Master Jet base] . The squadron occupied the spaces of Hangar 122, port side. Hangar 122 is located next to the water tower and field identifier revolving light. These spaces included maintenance areas on the hangar deck, office spaces on the second floor, and offices plus ready room on the top floor.
VA-65 is in
US Navynomenclature, a shortened acronym for ATKRON-65, this stands for Attack Squadron-65, VA is broken into V for fixed-wing, A for attack. Also called the Bombing 65th, as it was an attack [bombing squadron] . VA-65 was fleet based, meaning attached to an aircraft carrier for deployments. Their last cruise was during Desert Storm /Desert Shield in 1990-1991 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). As was common during the Gulf War, many squadrons painted " nose art" on at least one airplane. VA-65 painted a caricature of comic strip cat Garfield, with a large stick and flight helmet, with the caption, "TR's Big Stick"
VA-65 was scheduled to take part in a UNITAS cruise [started in 1959 UNITAS has been instrumental in improving working relationships among U.S. and Latin American naval forces] around the horn of South America [with multiple stops] on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the summer of 1993. Unfortunately the squadron received word it would disestablished before the cruise.
Reasons were budgetary in nature, as the VA-65 Tigers were flying the venerable, yet very old
A-6 Intruderwhich was being phased out in the early 1990s, and was completely removed from service in 1997. At the time, VA-65 had just won the Atlantic Fleet Battle E Award for best Attack Squadron.
The final VA-65, from around the time of Desert Storm to the bitter end in 1993, had a very strong JOPA group. JOPA stands for Junior Officer Protection Association. A group only open to Lieutenants and below that are commissioned officers. Voting in secret sessions, the officers would decide on any thing, from parties to how they were going to act towards certain policies in the Navy and squadron life itself. One of the slogans of JOPA is "No Major Problems" meaning that they do not allow any Lieutenant Commanders or above in the group, as the officer insignia for an LCDR and CDR (Commander) are identical to that US Army, Air Force, and Marine: Major and Lieutenant Colonel's oak leaf. The last Carrier Air Group VA-65 belonged to was CAG-8, and there was a JOPA edition of the CAG patch [later banned by a subsequent CAG] .
Even civilians have had some contact with VA-65. On the final cruise, a "final checker" was sucked into an engine inlet, and was caught on the carrier close circuit TV. Subsequently, this video was shown on multiple TV video shows. the crew member survived, as his shoulder jammed into the "bullet" of the engine, and due to the quick thinking and training of the aircrew (pilot LT. Bill Gilchrist..B/N not known) and deck crew, they were able to shut down before he was sucked down through the blades. His cranial and radio equipment were sucked in, and destroyed the engine. Later that night bandaged and bruised he appeared on the closed circuit TV station (TR TV) on the USS Theodore Roosevelt with the boat's CO, and discussed his ordeal.
At one point VA-65's tactical call sign [used when flying, for example "Tiger 06"] was something not so tactical ... it was "cupcake". Suggested by the wife of the VA-65 commanding officer after tiger cubs were born, and one was named "cupcake". The name actually came back to haunt the squadron after one of its members [LTjg Tracy Thorne] declared he was a homosexual on Ted Koppel's news show, "NightLine". This was one of the first fights over gays in the military, a battle that still rages today, under the policy of "
Don't ask, don't tell" set forth by the Clinton administration.
*Established as a Torpedo Squadron VT-74 on 1 May 1945
*Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-2B on 15 November 1946
*Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-25 on 1 September 1948
*Redesignated Attack Squadron VA-65 on 1 July 1959
*Disestablished on 31 March 1993, at
NAS Oceana, Virginia
*SWB-4E May 1945
*SB2C-4E Jul 1945
*SB2C-5 Feb 1946
*TBM-3E Feb 1946
*SNJ-4 Jul 1947
*AD-1 Jul 1947
*AD-4 01 Dec 1949
*AD-6/A-1H Oct 1953
*A-6A Mar 1965
*A-6B Dec 1968
*A-6E 03 May 1972
Logo and History
The squadron’s first insignia was approved by CNOon 9 August 1945. During the time when thesquadron’s insignia was approved, VT-74 was flyingthe SB2C which was nicknamed "The Beast". Consequently,the squadron’s insignia took on the shape ofa beast riding a torpedo. There is no record of the colorsused for this insignia.
After VT-74 was redesignated VA-2B, it continued touse the old insignia until 17 April 1947 when CNOapproved a new insignia for the squadron. Theinsignia adopted by VA-2B reflected the squadron’snew attack mission. The horsehead chess piece wasdesigned to relate the squadron’s power to that of a medieval knight and the fleur-de-lis representedintegrity. Colors for the insignia were: a yellow background;red scroll with yellow lettering, black bannerwith a black and white pole; white knight with a yellowcollar; a white lightning bolt; and the Fleur-de-liswas red with a black band.The Knight insignia continued as the official insigniafor the squadron following its redesignation to VA-25on 1 September 1948. A new insignia for VA-25 wasapproved by CNO on 4 April 1950. The new insigniawas a front view of a tiger on the prowl. Colors were:yellow background; brown tiger with green eyes, andwhite teeth, whiskers and claws; and a red tongue andmouth. When VA-25 was redesignated VA-65 in 1959the tiger insignia was retained and remained VA-65’sinsignia until its disestablishment.Nickname: Tigers, 1950–1993.
Chronology of Significant Events
*7 Nov 1945: Squadron embarked in Midway (CVB 41) (see link USS "Midway" for her shakedown cruise. The squadron had originally been established for the purpose of being part of the Midway Air Group.
*Jul–Aug 1948: The squadron participated in operation CAMID III, close air support for amphibious landings. During this operation the squadron became the first VA unit in the Atlantic Fleet to fire Tiny Tim rockets.
*23--24 Jun 1952: Attacked the Sui-ho Dam and other North Korean hydroelectric plants as part of a massive joint service operation
*1–20 Jun 1961: Following a four-hour notice for an emergency deployment, VA-65 deployed to the Caribbean Sea aboard USS "Intrepid" due to unsettled conditions in the Dominican Republic following the assassination of General Trujillo.
*3 Aug–11 Oct 1962: VA-65 was aboard for the maiden cruise of the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS "Enterprise" during her deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.
*19 Oct–6 Dec 1962: VA-65 was back at sea aboard Enterprise one week after returning from a Mediterranean cruise and headed for the Caribbean Sea due to the
Cuban Missile Crisis. The squadron participated in the naval quarantine of Cuba.
*31 Jul–3 Oct 1964: The squadron participated in
Operation Sea Orbitas part of CVW-6 aboard "Enterprise". This operation was an around-the-world voyage of a task force composed of all nuclear powered ships. The sixty-five day cruise was accomplished without logistic support, which demonstrated the capability of these ships to steam to any area in the world and project power without support.
*15 Jun 1966: VA-65 conducted its first combat sortie.
*1 Jul 1966: VA-65’s aircraft joined other CVW-15 aircraft in attacking and sinking three North Vietnamese patrol vessels that were approaching USS "Coontz"at high speed.
*25–31 Oct 1966: Due to the inclement weather, the squadron’s all-weather A-6As were used to the maximum. During this period VA-65 flew 37 percent of all Yankee Team sorties in North Vietnam.
*29 Jul 1967: VA-65 personnel were among those killed or injured when a flight deck explosion and fire occurred on USS "Forrestal" during operations on
*Jul–Dec 1967: Due to the fire on the "Forrestal" and her departure from combat duty on Yankee Station, VA-65 sent a detachment (Det-64) to the USS "Constellation" to augment VA-196 for the remainder of the ship’s 1967 combat tour in Vietnam.
*May–Jun 1969: USS "Kitty Hawk" , with VA-65 aboard, relieved "Enterprise" in the Sea of Japan. "Enterprise" had been ordered to operate in the area as a result of the shoot down in April of an unarmed Navy EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft by North Korean MiGs. VA-65 conducted operations in the area during this two month period.
*9 Sep–5 Oct 1970: VA-65 operated from USS "Independence" on Bravo Station off the coast of Israel as a result of the crisis in Jordan and the hijacking of three commercial airliners.
*7 Oct–3 Nov & 9–21 Nov 1973: After the outbreak of the
Yom Kippur War(Arab-Israeli War of 1973), VA-65 operated from "Independence" in an area southwest of Crete and provided tanker support to fighter aircraft escorting Air Force Oneon Secretary of State Kissinger’s mission to Israel as well as tanker support for A-4 Skyhawks being ferried to Israel from theUnited States.
*4–22 Aug 1974: "Independence", with VA-65 embarked, operated between Crete and Cyprus inresponse to the crisis in Cyprus and the death of the American Ambassador to Cyprus at the hands of anti-American demonstrators.
*12 Mar 1975: During exercises in the Caribbean Sea, VA-65 conducted cross-deck operations with HMS "Ark Royal".
*Nov 1975: During the NATO exercise Ocean Safari in the North Altantic, the squadron once again conducted cross deck operations with HMS "Ark Royal".
*15 Apr 1980: VA-65 deployed aboard USS "Dwight D. Eisenhower" to the Indian Ocean after Iranians took the American Embassy personnel hostage.
*22 Dec 1980: VA-65 returned from its deployment that included only one port visit of five days in duration and a total of 246 days at sea.
*24 Jun 1982: VA-65 provided support during the evacuation of American and foreign civilians from
*7 Mar 1985: VA-65 and USS "Dwight D. Eisenhower" cut short a port visit to Palma, Spain and departed on a high speed transit to the Eastern
Mediterraneandue to the increased tension in Lebanon. The squadron operated in the vicinity of Lebanon until early April.
*1 Sep 1986: VA-65 was assigned to CVW-13 and USS "Coral Sea" as part of the Coral Sea Concept whereby two A-6 Intruder squadrons would be part of the air wing and share a common aircraft maintenance department. The concept was intended to reduce the number of personnel needed to support the squadrons.
*29 Sep 1987: VA-65 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard Coral Sea as the first
Night Vision Goggle(NVG) capable A-6 squadron.
*Aug–Sep 1989: "Coral Sea", with VA-65 embarked, was ordered to operate off the coast of Lebanon following terrorist claims to have killed an American hostage, Lieutenant Colonel
William R. Higgins, and the capture of Sheik Obeid from Lebanon by Israeli forces. The unstable situation in Lebanon ultimately led to the evacuation of the American Embassy. Squadron aircraft flew missions in support of the evacuation.
*Jan–Feb 1990: The squadron was embarked in USS "Abraham Lincoln" for her shakedown cruise.
*Jan–Feb 1991: The squadron participated in
Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi forces. Squadron aircraft struck targets in Iraq, Iraqi forces in Kuwait, and Iraqi naval units. The squadron was credited with the destruction (sinking) of 22 Iraqi naval vessels during the conflict.
*Apr–May 1991: VA-65 participated in
Operation Provide Comfort, flying close air support sorties over Northern Iraq in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s mission to aid the Kurdish refugees in Iraq.
*26 Mar 1993: On a dreary and very rainy day...perfect as a tribute to the all-weather A-6, the men of THE WORLD FAMOUS FIGHTING TIGERS held a disestablishment ceremony (official ceremony followed by a wake at the Officer's Club) at NAS Oceana, it was officially disestablished on 31 March 1993.
Location Assignment Date
NAAF Otis Field, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts01 May 1945
NAS NorfolkOct 1945
NAAS CharlestownFeb 1946
*NAAS Oceana Jun 1946
CGAS Elizabeth City20 Nov 1950
*NAAS Oceana/NAS Oceana* 20 Sep 1951 NAAS Oceana was redesignated NAS Oceana on 1 April 1952.
Name Date Assumed Command
LCDR Howard U. Bush 01 May 1945
LCDR John J. Hilton 05 Oct 1945
LCDR J. C. Micheel 16 Nov 1946
CDR K. W. Caffey 09 Apr 1947
CDR Arthur B. Sweet 11 Jun 1948
LCDR William W. Jones (Acting) 07 Sep 1949
CDR Arthur M. Ershler 10 Nov 1949
CDR Ray C. Tylutki 31 May 1951
LCDR Jean C. Mills 27 Oct 1952
CDR Thomas H. Stetson Sep 1953
CDR Roy P. Gee Feb 1955
CDR William G. Weber Apr 1956
LCDR John R. O’Neil, Jr. 25 Nov 1957
CDR Leland B. Cornell 17 Dec 1957
CDR William D. McNair 11 Sep 1959
CDR Maurice O. Rishel 16 Nov 1960
CDR W. F. Offtermatt 23 Oct 1961
CDR Harry W. Swinburne, Jr. 19 Oct 1962
CDR William J. Whitney 04 Jul 1963
CDR Norman E. Larsen 01 May 1964
CDR William N. Small 30 Nov 1964
CDR Robert C. Mandeville 30 Jun 1966
CDR Frank Cramblet Jun 1967
CDR St. Clair Smith 14 Jun 1968
CDR Michael F. Andrassy 16 Jun 1969
CDR Peter B. Easton 19 Jun 1970
CDR William P. Lyons 10 Jun 1971
CDR Thomas E. Shanahan 23 Jun 1972
CDR Paul F. Hollandsworth 29 Jun 1973
CDR Charles D. Hawkins, Jr. 25 Jun 1974
CDR George H. Strohsahl, Jr. 27 Jun 1975
CDR Donald L. Hahn 14 Sep 1976
CDR William R. Needham 16 Dec 1977
CDR Herbert A. Browne, Jr. 23 Mar 1979
CDR Joseph W. Prueher 20 Jun 1980
CDR Dickey P. Davis 25 Sep 1981
CDR Robert E. Houser 07 Dec 1982
William J. Fallon03 May 1984
CDR Robert L. Leitzel 06 Sep 1985
CDR Stephen H. Baker 13 Feb 1987
CDR Michael C. Vogt 12 Aug 1988
CDR Ralph H. Coon 23 Feb 1990
CDR Thomas J. Ross 12 Aug 1991
CDR James K. Stark, Jr. 04 Sep 1992
Major Overseas Deployments
Departure Return Air Wing Carrier Aircraft Area of Operation
29 Oct 1947 11 Mar 1948 CVBG-1 CVB 41 AD-1 Med
03 May 1949 25 Sep 1949 CVG-2 CVB 43 AD-1 Med
10 Jan 1951 18 May 1951 CVG-6 CVB 42 AD-4 Med
09 Jan 1952 05 May 1952 CVG-6 CVB 41 AD-4 Med
26 Aug 1952 08 Oct 1952 CVG-6 CVB 41 AD-4 NorLant
01 Dec 1952 19 May 1953 CVG-6 CVA 41 AD-4 Med
04 Jan 1954 04 Aug 1954 CVG-6 CVA 41 AD-6 Med
09 Oct 1955 30 Apr 1956 CVG-6 CVA 39 AD-6 Med
03 Sep 1957 21 Oct 1957 CVG-6 CVA 11 AD-6 NorLant
12 Feb 1959 30 Aug 1959 CVG-6 CVA 11 AD-6 Med
04 Aug 1960 17 Feb 1961 CVG-6 CVA 11 AD-6 Med
03 Aug 1961 01 Mar 1962 CVG-6 CVA 11 AD-6 Med
03 Aug 1962 11 Oct 1962 CVG-6 CVAN 65 A-1H Med
19 Oct 1962 06 Dec 1962 CVG-6 CVAN 65 A-1H Carib
06 Feb 1963 04 Sep 1963 CVG-6 CVAN 65 A-1H Med
08 Feb 1964 03 Oct 1964 CVW-6 CVAN 65 A-1H Med/World Cruise
12 May 1966 03 Dec 1966 CVW-15 CVA 64 A-6A WestPac/Vietnam
06 Jun 1967 15 Sep 1967 CVW-17 CVA 59 A-6A WestPac/Vietnam
30 Dec 1968 04 Sep 1969 CVW-11 CVA 63 A-6A/B WestPac/Vietnam
23 Jun 1970 31 Jan 1971 CVW-7 CVA 62 A-6A Med
16 Sep 1971 16 Mar 1972 CVW-7 CVA 62 A-6A/KA-6D NorLant/Med
21 Jun 1973 19 Jan 1974 CVW-7 CV 62 A-6E/KA-6D Med
19 Jul 1974 21 Jan 1975 CVW-7 CV 62 A-6E/KA-6D Med
15 Oct 1975 05 May 1976 CVW-7 CV 62 A-6E/KA-6D NorLant/Med
31 Mar 1977 21 Oct 1977 CVW-7 CV 62 A-6E/KA-6D Med
16 Jan 1979 13 Jul 1979 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Med
15 Apr 1980 22 Dec 1980 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D IO
20 Aug 1981 07 Oct 1981 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D NorLant
05 Jan 1982 13 Jul 1982 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Med
27 Apr 1983 02 Dec 1983 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Med
08 May 1984 20 Jun 1984 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Carib/NorLant
10 Oct 1984 08 May 1985 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Med
08 Jul 1985 22 Aug 1985 CVW-7 CVN 69 A-6E/KA-6D Carib
29 Sep 1987 28 Mar 1988 CVW-13 CV 43 A-6E Med
31 May 1989 30 Sep 1989 CVW-13 CV 43 A-6E Med
28 Dec 1990 28 Jun 1991 CVW-8 CVN 71 A-6E Med/Red Sea/Persian Gulf
Air Wing Assignments
Air Wing Tail Code Assignment Date
*CVG-74 01 May 1945
*CVBG-1* M 15 Nov 1946
*CVG-2† M 01 Sep 1948
*CVG-6 C Aug 1950
*CVG-6 AF‡CVG-6/CVW-6§ AE§ RCVW-4 AD 01 Jan 1965
*COMFAIRNORFOLK 05 Jun 1965
*CVW-15 NL 20 Feb 1966
*COMFAIRNORFOLK 03 Dec 1966
*CVW-17 AA 22 Dec 1966
*COMFAIRNORFOLK 15 Sep 1967
*CVW-11 NH 1968
*COMFAIRNORFOLK Sep 1969
*CVW-7 AG Feb 1970
*CVW-13 AK 01 Sep 1986
*CVW-8 AJ 30 Oct 1989
*CVG-74 was redesignated CVBG-1 on 15 November 1946.
*† CVBG-1 was redesignated CVG-2 on 1 September 1948.‡ CVG-6’s tail code was changed from C to AF in the latter part of1957. The effective date was most likely the beginning of FY 58 (1 July 1957).§ CVG-6’s tailcode was changed from AF to AE sometime in the latterpart of 1962. Carrier Air Groups (CVG) were redesignated CarrierAir Wings (CVW) on 20 December 1963, hence, CVG-6 became CVW-6.
Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award
Navy Battle E Ribbon
01 Jul 1951 30 Jun 1952
01 Jul 1959 30 Jun 1960
01 Oct 1977 30 Sep 1978
01 Oct 1979 30 Sep 1980
01 Jan 1984 31 Dec 1984
01 Jan 1991 31 Dec 1991
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
24 Oct 1962 21 Nov 1962
15 May 1969
25 May 1969 27 May 1969
05 Jun 1969
07 Jun 1969 15 Jun 1969
25 Jun 1969
06 Jun 1983 14 Jun 1983
27 Jul 1983 30 Aug 1983
01 Sep 1983 19 Oct 1983
27 Oct 1983 20 Nov 1983 Meritorious Unit Commendation09 Sep 1970 05 Oct 1970
30 Mar 1988 30 Sep 1989
Navy Expeditionary Medal
29 Apr 1980 16 Jul 1980
22 Jul 1980 08 Dec 1980
25 May 1983 27 May 1983
Navy Unit Commendation
15 Jan 1969 27 Aug 1969
29 Apr 1980 10 Dec 1980
21 Jul 1983 20 Nov 1983
27 Oct 1984 24 Apr 1985
17 Jan 1991 07 Feb 1991
Vietnam Service Medal
14 Jun 1966 13 Jul 1966
27 Jul 1966 31 Aug 1966
08 Sep 1966 01 Oct 1966
19 Oct 1966 09 Nov 1966
23 Jul 1967 30 Jul 1967
12 Aug 1967
27 Jan 1969 01 Mar 1969
12 Mar 1969 05 Apr 1969
17 Apr 1969 10 May 1969
28 Jun 1969 15 Jul 1969
27 Jul 1969 16 Aug 1969
Kuwait Liberation Medal
7 Jan 1991 28 Feb 1991
Southwest Asia Service Medal (includes Desert Storm)
14 Jan 1991 20 Apr 1991
Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation
05 Apr 1991 16 Jul 1991
* The award covers the competitive year 1948.† The award covers the competitive year 1967.
External and Internal References
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/download/va-64-75.pdf#search=%22VA-65%22 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS]
* [http://www.intruderassociation.org/ THE INTRUDER ASSOCIATION]
* [http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/grumman_a6.htm THE SMITHSONIAN UDVAR-HAZY CENTER]
* [http://broadcast.illuminatedtech.com/display/story.cfm?bp=99&sid=8016 THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION]
* [http://www.globalaircraft.org/planes/a-6_intruder.pl Global Aircraft Site]
List of A-6 Intruder operators
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