Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Strike Fighter Squadron 32
caption= VFA-32 insignia
dates= February 1, 1945 - present
Close air support Air interdiction Aerial reconnaissance
motto= Deus et Patria
Vietnam War* Operation Linebacker* Operation Linebacker IIOperation Desert Storm Operation Iraqi Freedom Operation Desert Storm Operation Deny Flight Operation Southern Watch Operation Deliberate Force Operation Enduring Freedom Operation Iraqi Freedom
F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair, F-9 Cougar, F-8 Crusader, F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18F Super Hornet
The VF-32 Swordsmen are a
U.S. Navystrike fighter squadron stationed at NAS Oceana. Their call sign is "Gypsy," tail code is "AC", and they fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
"Our mission is to project Naval Air Power worldwide in support of US foreign policy objectives and when tasked, be ready to FIGHT and WIN in support of those objectives." [http://www.vfa32.navy.mil]
Insignia and Nickname
When initially formed, the squadron used the Fighting Three "
Felix the Cat" symbol, (as so many pilots were from Fighting Three) and called themselves the "Crazy Cats". At one time, the squadron was known as the "White Lightning." In 1950, the squadron adopted the insignia of a traditional heraldry lion under Naval Aviation wings of gold and the motto "Deus et Patria" that has endured with only slight modernization through today. The VF-32 squadron radio callsign is "Gypsy" and most alumni refer to themselves as "Gypsies". The squadron has been nicknamed the "Swordsmen" since transition to the F-8 Crusader, at which time a sword was added to the lion's hand.
Two distinct squadrons have been designated VF-2. [http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq6-1.htm] . The first VF-2 was established on 1 June 1943 and was disestablished on 13 Nov 1945. The second VF-2 eventually became VFA-32, and is the subject of this article.
The VFA-32 lineage can be traced back to its establishment as Bombing Fighting Three (VBF-3) established on February 1,
1945flying the F6F Hellcat, when it was split off from VF-3, the famed Felix squadron. Fritz Wolf, a former member of the American Volunteer Group(AVG) or Flying Tigers, was assigned as the first VBF-3 commanding officer. At the time, US Navy carrier forces were closing on the Japanese empire and were facing aggressive Kamikazeattacks. VBF-3 was assigned to Carrier Air Group THREE onboard USS Yorktown (CV-10)operating in the Pacific theater. Flying F6F-5 "HELLCATS", VBF-3 pilots became the first Navy carrier-based pilots to strike the homeland of the Japanese Empire on 16 February 1945. During the heavy action on that day, the squadron totaled 24 airborne kills of Japanese aircraft for which the Swordsmen were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.On 15 Nov 1946 after World War II, VBF-3 was redesignated VF-4A and transitioned to the F8F-1 Bearcat. On August 7, 1948VBF-3 became VF-32 and transitioned to the F4U Corsairprior to hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula in 1950.
The Swordsmen were deployed in support of the
Korean Warin 1950 with F4U Corsairs aboard USS|Leyte|CV-32. From October 1950 to January 1951, VFA-32 participated in strikes against Korean targets including WonsanHarbor, Puckchong, Chonjin, and Chosin Reservoir. On December 4 1950, the aircraft of Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the first Black American Naval Aviator, suffered damage from AAA while supporting embattled Marines at Chosin reservoir. He was forced to crash-land his Corsair behind enemy lines. Circling overhead, his wingman could see that Brown survived the forced landing on a snow-covered mountain slope, but appeared to be trapped in the cockpit with smoke coming from the engine compartment. In an attempt to save his squadron mate, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Thomas J. Hudner, Jr.crash-landed his plane alongside Browns', risking the same fate. Hudner found Brown semi-conscious, but was unable to extricate him from the crumpled fuselage. Brown died in Hudner's arms, and although the attempted rescue failed, Hudner received the Medal of Honorand Brown received the Distinguished Flying Cross.After the Korean war ended in Nov 1952 the squadron returned to the East Coast and became the first squadron to operate the swept-wing F9F-6 Cougar. VFA-32 made subsequent deployments aboard USS Tarawa (CV-40)in 1953 and the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)in 1955. In 1956, VF-32 became the first squadron to transition to the F8U-1 Crusader, thus becoming the first supersonicsquadron in the Navy.While deployed aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60)as a unit of Carrier Air Group THREE, VFA-32 participated in the 1958 Lebanon crisis.
During the Cuban missile crisis in late 1962, VF-32 flew 96 sorties in support of photoreconnaissance flights and intelligence gathering missions. After returning from cruise in 1965, the squadron changed homeport from
NAS Cecil Field, Florida to NAS Oceana, Virginia, and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom II. VF-32 detached from Carrier Air Group THREE, ending a relationship that had lasted continuously since the squadron's establishment.
VF-32 embarked in
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42)in June 1966 as a component of Carrier Air Group ONE and sailed for Yankee Stationin Southeast Asia. The squadron flew 940 combat sorties during three line periods in five months, building a highly successful Vietnam Warcombat record, losing no aircraft or aircrew. In May 1968, VF-32 deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)for her maiden voyage.
In 1971, the squadron received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for actions in support of SIXTH FLEET operations during the Middle East Crisis.
In 1974, VF-32 began transition to
F-14 Tomcatat NAS Miramarbefore moving to NAS Oceanaas one of the first fleet Tomcat squadrons based there. VF-32 made the first Atlantic Fleet F-14 deployment in June 1975. On that cruise, VF-32 was awarded the Admiral Joseph Clifton Awardas the Navy's top fighter squadron. In October 1977, VF-32 became the first fleet squadron to fly against the Air Force F-15 Eagle, setting the stage for regularly scheduled dissimilar air combat training between the Air Force and Navy. VF-32 again embarked for the Mediterranean in "Kennedy" in June 1978. During this deployment VF-32 conducted the first fleet test and evaluation of the new and highly successful Television Camera System. The Swordsmen also deployed with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles for the first fleet captive-carry evaluation. A mid-cruise missile exercise, "BUZZARDEX", was an unqualified success with firings of AIM-54 Phoenixand AIM-7 Sparrowmissiles at five Mach2.5 targets. In October 1979, VF-32 completed 10 years of accident-free flying. In those 10 years the squadron flew over 33,000 hours with 17,000 of those in the F-14A.
In 1980 the Swordsmen were again presented with the Admiral Clifton Award. The Swordsmen enjoyed an accident-free Mediterranean cruise aboard "Kennedy" in 1980 and 1981. In 1982 the squadron completed another accident-free Mediterranean deployment aboard
USS Independence (CV-62)and was awarded the 1982 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle "E" and CNO Safety "S" awards. In 1983, VF-32 Tomcats were modified to carry the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System TARPSpod.
In 1983-84, the Swordsmen completed the Navy's first combat deployment since the Vietnam era with CVW-6 aboard "Independence". Fighter Squadron 32 flew combat air patrol missions and provided TARPS imagery for the 4 December 1983 CVW-6/CVW-3 air strikes on Syrian positions in
Lebanonand flew missions in support of Operation Urgent Furyin Grenada. This was the first combat operation using all branches of the military since Vietnam. The deployment concluded with participation in NATO exercise "TEAMWORK 84" in the Norwegian Sea. The Swordsmen made a third deployment aboard "Independence" from October 1984 through February 1985 to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.The Swordsmen rejoined CVW-3 in February 1985, and embarked aboard "Kennedy" in August 1986 for another Mediterranean deployment. This cruise saw the Swordsmen Class "A" safety record extended another year, but also included the first night F-14 barricade. VF-32 participated in a variety of NATO and combined exercises, and extended their major mishap-free safety record to 9 years during a 1988-89 Mediterranean deployment, again aboard "Kennedy".
On January 4,
1989, while flying from "Kennedy" during a routine patrol over the Gulf of Sidra, two VF-32 F-14s intercepted two Libyan MiG-23Floggers, which had originated from the Al Bumbai airfield in Tobruk. After attempts at a peaceful intercept were made, hostile intent was declared (the F-14s Television Camera System (TCS) confirmed that the MiGs were armed), and the Swordsmen were cleared to engage. The lead fired an AIM-7 Sparrow, which failed to track. His wingman also fired a Sparrow, which tracked and destroyed one of the MiGs, its pilot successfully ejecting. The first F-14 then closed to AIM-9 Sidewinderrange and downed the remaining MiG-23. Again the pilot managed to eject successfully. The Swordsmen and Kennedy returned to Virginia in February of 1989.
When Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi forces in August 1990, VF-32 joined
Carrier Air Wing 3, was put on emergency recall from Nellis AFBand returned to NAS Oceana to prepare to sortie with "Kennedy". "Kennedy" immediately proceeded to the Red Seato participate in Operation Desert Shield alongside USS "Saratoga". During Desert Shield, the ship made several Suez Canaltransits and operated in the Eastern Med. When Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Stormin January 1991, VF-32 Tomcats were in the first strike wave flying Combat Air Patrolmainly in central and western Iraq. VF-32 TARPS aircrews flew daily missions throughout Iraq including supersonic runs over highly defended Al Qa'im. Throughout Operation DESERT STORM, VF-32 aircrew logged 1,445 combat flight hours on 403 missions, including 38 combat TARPS missions. After an eight month deployment, the Swordsmen returned to NAS Oceana on 28 March 1991. Later that year, the Swordsmen won the 1991 AIRLANT Grand Slam missile firing competition with an unprecedented 17 of 17 scored kills. Fighting 32 and the "Kennedy" again deployed in October 1992. The Gypsies conducted a great deal of air-to-ground operations while on cruise, marking the beginning of the Tomcat strike/fighter mission. The Swordsmen returned home to NAS Oceana in April 1993 and throughout the summer conducted joint ACM exercises with the Air Force. The year was highlighted with presentations of the Battle "E" and Clifton Awards to VF-32.
In May 1994, VF-32 and CVW-3 embarked aboard
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). This four-week deployment marked the first extensive at-sea period where women worked alongside men on a fleet aircraft carrier. In September, a small detachment provided crucial TARPS photography and air support for Operation Restore Democracyin Haiti. In November 1994, VF-32 deployed aboard "Eisenhower" for another tour in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. The Gypsies flew missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watchand over Bosnia-Herzegovinain support of Operation Deny Flight. 1995 marked fifty years of service from the men and women of VF-32. In November 1996, VF-32 and CVW-3 deployed onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)for another tour in support of Operation Deny Flight and OSW over Bosnia and Iraq. The cruise proved to be yet another milestone as the Gypsies brought digital imagery to the TARPS mission. The new cameras could take up to two hundred digital images and was able to store them on board or transmit them to appropriately equipped ground or sea based receivers up to 300 kilometers away, resulting in a near-real-time reconnaissance capability. The squadron received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its cutting edge work with Digital TARPS. In August 1997, the Swordsmen of VF-32 began transitioning from the F-14A to F-14B. In February 1998, the Swordsmen received the F-14B Upgrade.
In November 1998, VF-32 and CVW-3 deployed aboard
USS Enterprise (CVN-65)to the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea to support OSW and Operation Deliberate Forge. With Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nationsinspections of known weapon sites, Operation Desert Foxwas launched on December 16 1998. F-14Bs from VF-32 took part in a 33-aircraft strike package on December 16. The first night of the four day operation was conducted by the US Navy only. Over four days, VF-32 expended convert|111054|lb|abbr=on of ordnance during 16 strike missions and 38 sorties. During Desert Fox many Tomcat firsts were achieved, including the first GBU-24s dropped in combat by the US Navy, the first multiple GBU-24 drop by any platform in combat, the first combat use of the LANTIRN, the first autonomous F-14 delivery of a GBU-10/16/24, and the first F-14 use of Night Vision Devices in combat. The Swordsmen returned home in May 1999.
VF-32 deployed once again in November 2000 for the
maiden voyageof the USS "Harry S. Truman". They spent four months in support of Operation Southern Watchand returned home on May 23, 2001. In December 2002 VF-32 deployed once again on "Truman" in support of Operation Noble Eagleand Operation Northern Watch.
In support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom(OIF) in 2003, VF-32 was deployed to the Mediterranean Seaaboard "Truman". VF-32 flew strike missions and missions in support of US Special Forceson the ground. VF-32 was involved in the worst friendly fireincident of the war when on April 6, 2003a squadron F-14 crew was cleared to attack an Iraqi tank near Dibakan, convert|30|mi|km south east of Mosul. Instead, they mistakenly dropped a single laser-guided bombon a vehicle convoy consisting of US Special Forces and Kurdish resistance fighters, killing 18 Kurdish fighters, 4 US soldiers and a BBCtranslator. An additional 80 people were wounded. An investigation following the war found that the pilot had been cleared to drop without the benefit of target coordinates provided by the Forward Air Controller, who was “operating under great stress” at the time. Overall, VF-32 flew 275 sorties and expended 247 laser guided bombs and 118 JDAM. January 2003 marked another historic first when VF-32 became the first operational squadron to attempt the launch of six AIM-54 Phoenix missiles from one aircraft. A launch such as this had not been attempted since 1972. 5 of the 6 active radar missiles were successfully launched. VF-32 returned to Oceana in May 2003.
In 2004 VF-32 deployed again in support of OIF, becoming the first Naval squadron to redeploy in support of OIF. The "Swordsmen" delivered multiple precision guided munitions on insurgent hideouts using the LANTIRN pod in the urban
Close Air Supportenvironment. This would be the squadron's final deployment with the F-14.
In October 2005, VF-32 transitioned to the
F/A-18F Super Hornetand in November 2005 the squadron was designated Strike Fighter Squadron Thirty Two (VFA-32).
In November 2007, VFA-32 embarked on
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)for their first F/A-18F Super Hornet cruise, deploying to the Persian Gulf. [ [http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=33089 - Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Deploys] ] . VFA-32 and the rest of CVW-3 returned home on June 4, 2008.
* [http://www.tomcatalley.com/squadron/vf32hist.htm VF-32 History]
* [http://www.vfa32.navy.mil/ Official site]
*Tony Holmes (2005). "US Navy F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom", Osprey Publishing Limited.
= See also =
Modern US Navy carrier air operations
List of military aircraft of the United States (naval)/ List of US Naval aircraft
United States Naval Aviator
United States Marine Corps Aviation
List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
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