Strike Fighter Squadron ONE THREE ONE [VFA-131]
Strike Fighter Squadron ONE THREE ONE (VFA-131) traces its traditions back over 45 years to March 1944 when the VF-81 NIGHTCAPPERS were established at Quonset Point, Rhode Island as part of CAG-81 flying F6F Hellcats. The VF-81 were first embarked aboard USS Wasp. The squadron was active during World War II and destroyed 42 enemy planes during that time.
In November 1946, VF-81 was redesignated as VF-13A. Again re-designated in 1948, VF-131 served aboard USS PRINCETON, flying F8 Bearcats, until being disestablished in November 1949. Twelve years later, VF-131 was reestablished in 1961, flying the F3H-2 Demon. The NIGHTCAPPERS deployed on the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) until May 1962 in response to the Berlin Crisis. VF-131 was disestablished in October 1962 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida.
On 3 October 1983, VFA-131 was established at NAS Lemoore, California. By May 1984, the squadron, now known as the WILDCATS, received its first F/A-18A Hornet and began an intensive training program, which included nine detachments in nine months. In January 1985, the WILDCATS moved cross-country to NAS Cecil Field, Florida and became "AIRLANT's First and Finest" F/A-18 squadron.
As a part of Carrier Air Wing THIRTEEN, The WILDCATS deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in October 1985 aboard USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) and participated in air strikes against Libya in 1986. For their efforts, the men of VFA-131 received both the Armed Forces and the Navy Expeditionary Medals and two Navy Unit Commendations. In 1986, VFA-131 was also awarded the AIRLANT Battle "E" for battle efficiency, the CNO Aviation Safety Award, The Silver Anchor for personnel retention, and the Estocin Award for the best F/A-18 squadron in the U.S. Navy.
The WILDCATS completed their second Mediterranean deployment aboard USS CORAL SEA in March 1988. In August 1988, VFA-131 embarked on USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62) for a two month transit via Cape Horn from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California. On 15 October, 1988, the squadron became a member of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN. Following an extensive and protracted work-up cycle, the WILDCATS deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard U.S.S. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) in March 1990. In August 1990, USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER became one of the first U.S. units to respond to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. The WILDCATS maintained peak combat readiness as part of Operation DESERT SHIELD to keep Saddam Hussein's forces out of Saudi Arabia.
After returning home in September 1990, the squadron "traded in" its F/A-18A aircraft for the brand new F/A-18C Lot XIII Night Strike Hornets. One year later, after a rapid turnaround training cycle, the squadron returned to USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER for a deployment that included operations in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield, and concluded with operations above the Arctic Circle in support of exercise TEAMWORK 92. This was the first Night Strike Hornet deployment in the Atlantic Fleet.
In September 1992, the WILDCATS and CVW-7 deployed aboard the Navy's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73), for its two month Shakedown Cruise that included operations off Puerto Rico and the southeastern United States. In 1993, VFA-131 began work-ups for USS GEORGE WASHINGTON's maiden deployment, which began 20 May 1994. The historic deployment began with a visit to Portsmouth, England and Brest, France to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. Following these ceremonies, the WILDCATS flew sorties in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over southern Iraq. In response to Iraq aggression in October 1994, the WILDCATS returned to the Arabian Gulf and participated in Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR, ensuring stability in the region. The WILDCATS received the 1994 CNO Safety Award and were nominated by AIRLANT for the 1994 Estocin Award.
In January 1996, the WILDCATS once again deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic, and the Arabian Gulf in support of Operations DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and SOUTHERN WATCH. In 1996, VFA-131 participated in a myriad of events including contingency operations in southern Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and eight major combined exercises in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. During this deployment, the squadron maintained an unprecedented 99.7% sortie completion rate.
The WILDCATS deployed in February of 1998 aboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS for a six-month "Around the World" cruise. Over four months of this deployment were spent in support of Operation Southern Watch helping to support the No Fly Zone in southern Iraq. The WILDCATS saw port calls around the world as USS JOHN C. STENNIS relocated to San Diego, California. Following this cruise, the WILDCATS integrated women into the squadron, with female officers and enlisted personnel playing a critical role in the success of the command. In December, 1998, VFA-131 was the first of the East Coast F/A-18 Hornet squadrons to re-locate from NAS Cecil Field, FL and take up residence in it's new home at NAS Oceana, Virginia.
Starting off 1999, the WILDCATS participated in REDFLAG 2-99, a joint services exercise, at Nellis AFB, NV. VFA-131 also participated in ASCIET 99 in Savanna, Georgia. Late spring of 1999, the WILDCATS started the turn around training cycle in preparation of their next deployment. VFA-131 successfully completed SFARP and CVW-7 Air Wing detachments at NAS Fallon, NV, as well as TSTA I/II/III, COMPTUEX, and JTFEX aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69). The WILDCATS deployed in February 2000.
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