Strike Fighter Squadron THREE SEVEN [VFA-37]
Attack Squadron THREE SEVEN was established as an A-7A squadron in July 1966. The BULLS became operational in December 1967, first deploying aboard the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) in 1969. Attack Squadron THREE SEVEN has deployed 19 times on the decks of seven aircraft carriers during their 30-year history. The BULLS have carried out the light attack mission in the Indian Ocean, twice in Vietnam, once in Iwakuni, Japan, and made one "Around-the World" cruise aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70).
During the squadron's second tour to Vietnam, the USS SARATOGA (CV 60), with the BULLS aboard, arrived on Yankee Station in May 1972 and commenced nine consecutive months of combat operations, flying nearly 2800 missions and dropping over 3100 tons of ordnance.
In April 1973, the BULLS received their first A-7E, an advanced version of the A-7A. It incorporated improved navigation and weapons systems, state of the art avionics, and greater aircraft performance. The BULLS made seven cruises with the A-7E during the latter part of the 1970s and early 1980s. During this time, the BULLS responded to several national crises in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.
In 1984, the BULLS deployed to Iwakuni, Japan to operate alongside the U.S. Marine Corps. During this unique experience, the BULLS detached to Yechon, Korea, thus becoming the first Navy aircraft squadron to deploy in field conditions since World War II.
After returning from Japan, the BULLS made three deployments aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean with the 1989-90 Mediterranean cruise being the last in the A-7E Corsair II. That cruise was culminated by the BULLS winning the Safety "S", 1989 Atlantic Fleet Battle "E", and the Golden Tailhook Award for achieving the highest overall landing grades within Carrier Air Wing Six (CVW-6).
In August 1990, the BULLS were detached from Carrier Air Wing SIX and attached to Commander Light Attack Wing ONE (CLAW-1). Following the invasion of Kuwait, five BULL jets were transferred to VA-72 for a short-notice deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield.
During the next three months, the BULLS provided a "cadre" of fleet-ready A-7E pilots, aircraft, and maintenance personnel to support the deployed light attack squadrons preparing for combat. On 31 October 1990, TEAM BULL flew the last official sortie in the A-7E Corsair II. This event ended a 25-year association with the "Harley of the Fleet" in which over 115,000 flight hours and 25,000 arrestments were flown.
On 15 November 1990 Attack Squadron THREE SEVEN was officially redesignated Strike-Fighter Squadron THREE SEVEN, receiving its first F/A-18 Hornet on 13 December 1990. On 01 September 1991, TEAM BULL, attached to Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW-3), embarked on the USS JOHN F KENNEDY (CV 67).
From October 1992 to April 1993, the BULLS deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the JOHN F KENNEDY Battle Group. During this deployment, the BULLS participated in many exercises with our allies and were key participants in Operation PROVIDE COMFORT in northern Iraq and Operation PROVIDE PROMISE in the airspace near the former Yugoslavia.
Upon returning from the 1993 Mediterranean cruise, the BULLS began another turn-around cycle. The squadron's jets received a software upgrade and TEAM BULL began training with its new AMRAAM missile capabilities. Throughout the year, the squadron continued to refine its air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics in preparation for a six month deployment aboard the USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER (CVN 69) beginning on 20 October 1994. During the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf cruise, the BULLS flew missions over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and later over Bosnia in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT. The BULLS also participated in major exercises with the Kuwaitis, Saudis, and Israelis, as well as with many NATO allies.
After returning from the Mediterranean in April of 1995, the BULLS continued to refine their air-to-ground capabilities with a Weapons Detachment to Fallon, Nevada in August. Air-to-air proficiency was improved with several missile-shoot exercises and joint training in Gulfport-Biloxi, MS (Combat ID/ASCIET 95) and Nellis AFB, NV (Fighter Weapons Training). The BULLS finished the busy year receiving the last of their new LOT XVIII aircraft and preparing for the work-up cycle and cruise scheduled in 1996.
Calendar year 1996 found the BULLS charging ahead with an aggressive work-up schedule going from NAS Key West, TESTA I/II/III, Point Magu, NAS Fallon, COMPTUEX, and JTFEX.
On 26 November 1996, the BULLS embarked onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) with Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW-3). The BULLS flew in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq and Operation DELIBERATE GUARD over Bosnia-Herzegovina. TEAM BULL also participated in major exercises throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
Upon return from the Mediterranean in May of 1997, the BULLS continued to develop their air-to-air and air-to-ground tactical proficiency. The BULLS began their turn around training plan which included joint exercises to (Combat ID/ASCIET 97) Eglin AFB, FL, Fighter Weapons Training in Nellis AFB, NV, and Red Air Training Support for the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) out of NAS Roosevelt Roads.
The work-up cycle for JTG 99-1 began in January 1998, with a carrier qualification refresher. TEAM BULL tackled Strike-Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP) during all of March and honed the BULL's skills to a razor-sharp edge. Airwing Fallon Det, COMPTUEX, and JTFEX prepared the BULLS for the upcoming deployment.
In November, CVW-3 deployed aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), and proceeded directly to the Arabian Gulf. After four weeks of participating in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the execute order was issued for Operation DESERT FOX against Iraq. The BULLS performed superbly, flying 44 sorties and delivering 46 tons of ordnance in four nights of sustained combat operations. The hit assessment for VFA-37 was the best in the air wing and the operation was completed with no friendly losses.
TEAM BULL and the Enterprise Battle Group left the Arabian Gulf in January. During the next five months of deployment, VFA-37 flew missions over the former Yugoslavia in Operation DELIBERATE FORGE, and again over Iraq in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
The RAGIN BULLS relocated to the Master Jet Base, NAS Oceana, in July 1999. The next major deployment for the BULLS was the maiden voyage of the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) in 2000.
In February 2001 the Ragin' Bulls of VFA-37 wrapped up their second line period on the USS Harry S Truman with another "Top Hook" award. The line period extended from JTFEX through the first month of cruise. Leading the way for the BULLS were Lt Rich 'GASH' Rivera and Lt Cdr Scott 'Jethro' Kelly, both CAG 3 top ten recipients and Lt Eric 'Bunny' Alderman and Lt Nick 'Mario" Good who both received top five nugget awards. The line period brought many challenging conditions, from pitching decks in the Med to 50 kt winds in the Red Sea. The Bulls persevered these tough conditions and once again came out on top. The Ragin Bulls of VFA-37 have now won both "TOP HOOK" awards on the Truman.
Following deployment, VFA-37, much like HST, experienced an influx of new personnel, making the current training cycle extremely important if the Bulls are to equal the success of their last deployment with the carrier.
In mid-June 2002 the Bulls returned to HST, to participate in Tailored Ship's
Training Availability (TSTA) I/II. Following TSTA, the Bulls will experience a significant jump in
the intensity of their training. After their time in Nevada, VFA-37 will once again return to
HST, this time for the carrier's Composite Unit Training Exercise
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