Strike Fighter Squadron TWO FIVE [VFA-25]
"Fist of the Fleet"
Strike Fighter Squadron 25, the "Fist of the Fleet", is a veteran command of Naval Aviation. Originally commissioned Torpedo Squadron 17 in 1943, the squadron operated during World War II with TBM and SB2C attack bombers.
Following the war, the squadron was redesignated as VA-6B, then as VA-65 in December 1947. At this time the squadron transitioned to the aircraft it would fly for the next 21 years, the propeller driven A-1 "Skyraider", affectionately referred to as the "Spad". VA-65 became a plank owner aboard USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) when it sailed with the carrier on its maiden voyage in early 1948. In succeeding years Attack Squadron 65 also deployed aboard USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) and won its first Battle Efficiency "E" denoting it as the best single engine attack squadron on the east coast in 1948. The achievement was repeated in 1950.
The outbreak of the Korean hostilities resulted in the squadron's transfer to the west coast, based at NAS Moffett Field. In the fall of 1950, they deployed to Korean waters with Carrier Air Group 2 aboard USS BOXER. An impressive combat record was compiled aboard the "Essex" class carrier, with 1,645 combat missions being logged. In July of 1959, the squadron was redesignated as VA-25. In 1962 the squadron moved to newly completed NAS Lemoore, cruising aboard USS Midway.
From 1965 through 1968, VA-25 made three deployments to Southeast Asia, still flying the venerable A-1, now from the deck of USS CORAL SEA. During this period, FIST pilots flew over 3,000 combat missions, dropping more than 10 millions pounds of ordnance on enemy targets. On 20 June 1965, a division of "Spads" were attacked by a section of Vietnamese MIG-17's deep in North Vietnam, with VA-25 successfully scoring a guns kill against one of the jet powered fighters. It was also during the 1965 cruise that Attack Squadron 25 was awarded the 1964-65 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency "E". When VA-25 turned in its A-1 "Spads" in 1968, it was the last tactical propeller driven squadron in the Navy.
The next aircraft for VA-25 was the A-7B Corsair II, the first of which was delivered to the squadron in October 1968 at NAS Lemoore, California. After only four months of training in the new aircraft, VA-25 departed for its fourth combat cruise to Southeast Asia, aboard the USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) It was during this cruise that Attack Squadron 25 established what may still stand as a record in operational performance. In thirty-three flying days, FIST pilots flew 1,650 sorties in combat against the enemy. During this period, each squadron pilot averaged over 92 hours in the air. Returning to NAS Lemoore for a well earned rest, VA-25 transitioned to the newest version of the Corsair II, the A-7E. In October 1970, VA-25 began a long and successful relationship with the USS RANGER (CV-61). In the following two years, the squadron made two more combat cruises aboard "TOP GUN", expending over 15 million pounds of ordnance on targets in Laos and Vietnam.
WESTPAC 1974 marked VA-25's first peacetime cruise in nine years. From 1974 to 1983, VA-25 made four more WESTPAC deployments aboard USS RANGER, including one to the Indian Ocean during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. During its last WESTPAC deployment with USS RANGER in 1982, the squadron dropped over 277 tons of live and inert ordnance.
In May 1983, pilots from VA-25 began training in the new FA-18A Hornet. The squadron was redesignated as Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (VFA-25) on 1 July 1983. The squadron had received its total complement of 12 aircraft from the factory in St. Louis by March of 1984. Operational air wing training in multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises with Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW-14) and USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64), were conducted for the remainder of 1984 through January of 1985.
On 19 February 1985, VFA-25 departed on the historic "first deployment" of the FA-18 Hornet aboard America's Flagship, the USS CONSTELLATION. During this WESTPAC deployment, VFA-25 won both the CVW-14 Bombing Derby and the CVW-14 Tailhook Award before returning to NAS Lemoore in August 1985. In 1986 VFA-25 was presented the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award. The same year the FIST departed in August for a three month North Pacific deployment with CVW-14 on USS CONSTELLATION.
1987 began with the "Fist of the Fleet" receiving the Bruce Carrier Memorial Award for outstanding maintenance, followed by a six month deployment to the Indian Ocean onboard USS CONSTELLATION. In July and August VFA-25 flew both air supremacy and strike posture missions in support of the Navy's efforts to secure freedom of navigation through the Straits of Hormuz. VFA-25 returned to NAS Lemoore, California in October of 1987, capturing the CVW-14 Top Hook honors for the deployment. Closing a stellar year, VFA-25 was awarded the 1987 Battle "E".
In December of 1988, the FIST deployed to the Indian Ocean aboard USS CONSTELLATION. March brought the Fist's second consecutive Battle "E", followed by the CNO Safety "S", and the Michael J. Estocin Award. This series of awards made VFA-25 the first "Triple Crown" winner, sweeping the year's major awards for the entire U. S. Navy Strike Fighter community. VFA-25 was active in the summer of 1989 in preparation for PACEX 89, the largest exercise of U. S. Naval forces since World War II. In November 1989, the squadron was again awarded the LTJG Bruce Carrier Memorial Award for Maintenance.
In 1990 VFA-25 journeyed to the North Pacific for RIMPAC 90 before deploying for WESTPAC on 19 June. When Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, VFA-25 responded as a part of CVW-4 onboard the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62). Operation Desert Shield held back Iraq's aggression, while VFA-25 flew combat patrols near the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations for three months before being relieved on station. For their superb operations, the FISTS were awarded the Battle "E" for the third time in four years, the Bruce Carrier Maintenance award for the second year in a row, and the CNO Safety "S" award. In 1991, the FIST escorted the USS INDEPENDENCE to Hawaii enroute to her new duty station in Japan and escorted the USS MIDWAY (CV-41) on her final voyage home to San Diego prior to decommissioning.
The FIST transferred their Lot XI FA-18C aircraft to the forward deployed VFA-192 in anticipation of new Lot XIV aircraft from St. Louis. VFA-25 received her full complement of 10 Lot XIV aircraft in August of 1992, making the squadron fully night strike and AMRAAM capable. In March 1993, the FIST received the Boola Boola Award from Vice Admiral Rudy Kohn, Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The award recognizes the Pacific Fleet squadron that exhibited the best air-to-air weapons utilization for the year and marked the first time an FA-18 squadron had received the award.
In February 1994, VFA-25 embarked onboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) for WESTPAC 94. The Fist of the Fleet operated extensively from the Arabian Gulf, flying missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch. During this cruise VFA-25 was awarded the Arleigh Burke Award. The Arleigh Burke Award is given to recognize the greatest improvement in overall combat readiness for the calendar year. This marked the first time this award was given to a FA-18 squadron.
The "Fists" deployed in May 1996 as part of Carrier Air Wing 14 embarked on the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70). WESTPAC 96 included participation in Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and DESERT STRIKE, and in Exercise RUGGED NAUTILUS. After being on station for over three very busy months, the "Fists" returned from deployment on 12 November 1996. VFA-25 returned from its latest cruise in December 1998. WESTPAC 98 was the "Fists" first deployment on board its current carrier, the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72). During the cruise, the squadron was once again in the Persian Gulf, enforcing the no-fly zones in Iraq.
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