Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ONE FIVE [VFA-115]
The Navy's first F/A-18E Super Hornet fleet squadron at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, CA, received its "safe for flight" certification in June 2001. This certification meant that Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115, the "Eagles," was ready to train as an operational squadron in preparation for the Navy's first operational deployment of Super Hornets in the summer of 2002 with the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group and Carrier Air Wing 14. The squadron successfully completed a comprehensive series of inspections and reviews of its training, maintenance and safety programs. With an inventory of six aircraft, a full compliment of pilots and a complete administrative structure, VFA-115 is capable of operating autonomously.
The Eagles returned from a routine six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in February 2001, and began transitioning from the Hornet to the Super Hornet in March 2001. Prior to certification, VFA-115 trained jointly with VFA-122, the Super Hornet fleet replacement squadron at NAS Lemoore, to prepare pilots and maintenance crews for the arrival of the Navy's new aircraft in the squadron.
The Super Hornet is a multi-mission aircraft that can be employed as a fighter, a bomber and a tanker. The new jet has a tactical mission spectrum that spans from long range, sea-based air dominance to deep strike interdiction. The Super Hornet is designed to greatly exceed the capabilities of current naval aviation assets and will replace the F-14 Tomcat in future program years. The new jet is designed to carry every tactical air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon in the Navy's inventory. The Super Hornet is the Navy's premier strike-fighter aircraft. It is designed to lead naval aviation into the twenty-first century and to secure maritime dominance and air superiority in any threat environment.
On 10 October 1942, ten months and three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the predecessor of Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA 115) was commissioned as Torpedo Squadron Eleven (VT 11) by the Navy Department. So began the history of one of the oldest squadrons still in commission in the Pacific Fleet. Pilots and crews found themselves "strapping in" the "new" Grumman designed TBM Avenger, a carrier based torpedo bomber known in the fleet as the "Turkey." The squadron's first combat deployment was landbased at Guadalcanal during April-May 1943 as part of Carrier Air Group Eleven (CVG-11). In June 1943, VT 11 pilots conducted the first daylight raids on Bougainville and the Solomon Islands from the USS HORNET (CV-12). In October 1944, the squadron participated in the first strikes against Okinawa and two weeks later converged on Leyte to protect the landing and supply ships engaged in the liberation of the Philippines. Seven Navy Crosses were awarded to VT 11 aircrews during this campaign. After the war, NAS San Diego became VT-11's new homeport, and the squadron was redesignated as Attack Squadron Twelve Able (VA-12A) in November 1946. VA-12A, along with its Carrier Air Group (CVAG-11), underwent extensive training and embarked in USS VALLEY FORGE (CVA-45), the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. In June 1948, VA-12A deployed on a world cruise, which was a first for a Navy Air Group and milestone for the squadron. A symbolic globe later became part of the squadron's official insignia to commemorate the cruise.
On July 15, 1948 VA-12A was redesignated Attack Squadron 115 (VA-115). In addition, the squadron transitioned to the Navy's newest, most powerful, and what was to be its last propeller driven fighter-bomber, the Douglas built Skyraider. In July 1950, VA-115 deployed aboard (CV-47) for nine months conducting strikes in Inchon, North Korea in preparation for landings in September 1950. During and after the invasion the squadron flew deep support missions and also encountered MIG-15s. On 31 December 1951, VA-115 deployed again to the Korean theater and flew combat missions against North Korean rail, transportation, communication, industrial and supply targets. VA-115 flew 2,268 combat missions over both Korea deployments. For this outstanding performance, the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. In 1960 the squadron adopted the nickname "Arabs" after passage through the Suez Canal and winning the coveted Battle Efficiency Award.
In October 1965, the squadron returned to Southeast Asia with USS KITTY HAWK (CV- 63), and Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11). While serving "on the line" for six months in the Gulf of Tonkin, VA 115 flew 2,051 sorties, over 8000 hours and delivered 7 millions pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Vietnam. In September 1966, VA-115 joined Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5), and was assigned to the Seventh Fleet in January 1967. In August 1967, the squadron was in an inactive status. This period was a transitional period as the squadron awaited the arrival of the A-6A Intruder. In January 1970, the squadron resumed active status and was reassigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington for transition to the Grumman A-6A Intruder.
As part of CVW-5, on board USS MIDWAY (CV-41), VA-115 made their first Western Pacific deployment in the Intruder in 1971. In April 1972, USS MIDWAY (CV-41) and VA-115 departed NAS Alameda, California for "Yankee Station" off the coast of Vietnam. VA-115 earned a fourth Presidential Unit Citation during this tour.
In September 1973, MIDWAY and VA-115 changed homeport to Yokosuka, Japan. Again MIDWAY and VA-115 would serve off the coast of Vietnam and in 1975, participated in "Operation Eagle Pull" and "Operation Frequent Wind" supporting the evacuation of Saigon as the country fell to communists.
In the summer of 1977, VA-115 transitioned to the A-6E. The "Arabs" of VA-115 then became the "Eagles," officially changing the nickname in March 1978. In 1980, the squadron received the new A-6E TRAM aircraft and was awarded a second Battle Efficiency Award. 1983 and 1984 found the "Eagles" operating from the North Pacific to the Indian Ocean during three separate deployments. The squadron was chosen as the West Coast Intruder Squadron of the Year for 1985 and during 1985 and 1986 deployed again to the Indian Ocean with underway periods of 111 and 81 continuous days at sea, respectively. In 1987, the squadron changed configuration from 16 to nine aircraft squadron with the addition of a second A-6 squadron to CVW-5 and USS MIDWAY (CV-41). The "Eagles" deployed again to the Middle East in support of re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf. In 1988, the squadron completed the Far East Medium Attack Readiness Program at Osan, Republic of Korea and participated in Summer Olympic support operations off the Korean Coast.
In October 1990, the "Eagles" deployed to the North Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. On 17 January 1991, "Eagle" Intruders launched from the deck of USS MIDWAY (CV-41) against Iraqi targets to mark the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. In total, the "Eagles" flew 456 combat sorties, 953 hours and delivered 724,000 pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Iraq and occupied Kuwait. The squadron also led the wing with the confirmed destruction of 12 Iraqi naval vessels. In 1992, the squadron deployed aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), USS MIDWAY's relief as the Navy's forwarddeployed aircraft carrier. VA-115 again deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch enforcing United Nations resolutions against Iraq. The "Eagles" were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their superb performance, flying 115 combat missions over Iraq. In 1993, VA-115, with a complete complement of A-6E SWIP aircraft deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and in 1994, received four aircraft with "night vision" capability.
In 1996, "The Best Attack in WESTPAC" maintained an extremely impressive sortie rate while supporting local operations, Exercises "Cobra Gold" and "RIMPAC," contingency operations in the vicinity of Taiwan and still another deployment supporting Southern Watch. In October 1996, the "Eagles" began transition to their fifth aircraft, the FA-18C Hornet and conducted another homeport change returning to NAS Lemoore, California, as well as, redesignation as Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115). The squadron accepted 12 FA-18s in six months and joined CVW-14 on board USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72). In June 1998 the "Eagles" deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. In February 1999, the squadron was awarded the 1998 LTJG Bruce Carrier Memorial Award for Maintenance and Safety Excellence.
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