Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron [VAW-113]
The "Black Eagles" were commissioned as a separate squadron on April 29, 1967. One week later, VAW-113 deployed to the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) flying the E-2A "Hawkeye" aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64). VAW-113 served in Vietnamese Operations every year from 1967 to 1975. The culmination of these efforts occurred in May 1975, when VAW-113 played a vital role in Operation FREQUENT WIND, the evacuation of American forces from South Vietnam.
Since commissioning, the Black Eagles made sixteen WESTPAC deployments as of 1999. Tactical innovators, VAW-113 was the first E-2 squadron to operate with the F-14A and F-14D "Tomcat," and the F/A-18 "Hornet," providing substantial input to the tactical development and utilization of these platforms in the Outer Air Battle, Medium Range Anti-Air and overland arenas.
In 1987, the Black Eagles were recognized for operational excellence in their support of Battle Group DELTA and tanker escort operations in the North Arabian Sea/Gulf of Oman. In December of 1988, the Black Eagles set sail again for the North Arabian Sea, an underway period highlighted by monitoring tanker escort operations in support of Operation EARNEST WILL.
During their WESTPAC '90 cruise, VAW-113 again deployed to the Gulf of Oman, providing both sea and air cover to Battle Group DELTA and allied forces in the Arabian Gulf as one of the first units deployed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The Black Eagles spent over three months in the Gulf of Oman in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD prior to their return to San Diego in December of 1990.
In May of 1992, the Black Eagles and Carrier Air Wing FOURTEEN (CVW-14) took part in ROVING SANDS, the largest integrated air defense exercise in the continental United States. This was the first operational employment and successful test of the cutting edge technology incorporated in the E-2C Group II. Significant improvements in this aircraft over its predecessors are its APS-145 radar, Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), enhanced high speed processor (EHSP) computer, and Allison T56-A-427 engines.
During the months of July-September of 1992, the Black Eagles deployed to Howard AFB, Panama in support of Joint Task Force Four (JTF-4), U. S. Counter-Narcotic (CN) operations. The Black Eagles received accolades from the Commander, JTF-4 for one of the most successful E-2C detachments on record for JTF-4 operations.
In August of 1994, VAW-113 again deployed to WESTPAC/Arabian Gulf, serving as an integral part of CVW-14 and Battle Group CHARLIE on board USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70). While in the Arabian Gulf supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, VAW-113 aircrews acted as Navy Command and Control liaison officers in Saudi Arabia to Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, U.S. Air Force E-3A AWACS and RC-135 RIVET JOINT aircraft. During this historic first operational deployment of the E-2C Group II "Hawkeye", the Black Eagles supported international relations by providing direct support and demonstration flights, in addition to static displays, for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, the Republic of Singapore Navy and Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
1995 saw the Black Eagles making a two month detachment to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico supporting Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) East's war against drugs. The Black Eagles also became the first E-2C squadron to graduate a Weapons Tactics Instructor from the Marine Air Weapons Tactics Squadron course. Lessons learned helped to integrate the E-2C platform into roles of Direct Air Support Center-Airborne (DASC(A)), Tactical Air Control-Airborne (TAC(A)), and Airborne Battlefield Command, Control and Communications (ABCCC) platform. The squadron also made their second appearance at Roving Sands 1995. Cruising with USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) in August 1995, the squadron witnessed history while participating in the celebration of the World War II 50th anniversary in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Fourteen WWII era aircraft, including three B-25s, two F-4Us, and a TBF Avenger were deck launched for the last time.
In May of 1996, the Black Eagles made their fifteenth WESTPAC deployment, aboard USS CARL VINSON. Operations DESERT STRIKE and SOUTHERN WATCH kept the Black Eagles busy during their time spent in the Arabian Gulf. Port visits along the way included Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tasmania.
The Black Eagles again deployed on WESTPAC in June of 1998, aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72). The squadron's departure marked the end of its basing at NAS Miramar. While on station in the Arabian Gulf, VAW-113 flew missions supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Port visits during the highly successful cruise included Hong Kong, Singapore, Jebel Ali, Perth, Hobart, and Hawaii. At the end of cruise, the Black Eagles launched from USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, flying into their new home at NAS Point Mugu, CA. VAW-113's tactical prowess throughout the year was recognized by the Battle Efficiency "E" award for 1998.
As of 1999 the Black Eagles had surpassed thirty-two years and 65,000 hours of mishap free aviation. They have been awarded a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, three Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals, four Battle Efficiency "E"s, two Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Naval Aviation Safety Awards, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, two South West Asia Service Medals, four Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals and two Sea Service Deployment Medals.
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