Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHTY TWO [VFA-82]
The origin of Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT TWO, based ashore at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida, dates back to 1 May 1967 when VA-82 was established as an A-7A Corsair II Light Attack Squadron. Attack Squadron EIGHT TWO made its first deployment aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) during her maiden cruise to North Vietnam in April 1968. VA-82 returned to Southeast Asia in September 1969 aboard USS CORAL SEA (CV 43).
The unit transitioned to the A-7E in August 1970. Engine problems, however, forced the grounding of the whole A-7E fleet. As a result, when the Marauders made their final North Vietnam deployment aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) in July 1971, the squadron was operating A7-C aircraft, making the unit, along with VA-86, the only operational A7-C squadron in the fleet.
VA-82 completed its last cruise with the venerable A-7E Corsair II in June 1987. On 13 July 1987, Attack Squadron EIGHT TWO was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT TWO. With the delivery of the first FA-18C in November 1987, VFA-82 become the first FA-18C squadron.
The Marauders quickly discovered the unmatched fighting ability of the Hornet. The only "Strike-Fighter" aircraft in the world, the single-seat, dual-engine Hornet proved to be an extremely accurate bomber and an almost unbeatable fighter. As the first FA-18C squadron to go to sea, VFA-82 earned Top Hook honors during a 1989 Mediterranean/Indian Ocean deployment aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66), won every Carrier Air Wing ONE bombing competition, and pioneered FA-18C air-to-ground and air-to-air tactics.
In 1990, VFA-82 escorted USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) around the horn of South America on its way to Philadelphia for modernization. The same year, the Marauders were awarded their second Battle "E". In a year's time, VFA-82 had operated in support of the United States Navy's Second, Sixth, Seventh and Third Fleets.
December 1990 found VFA-82 once again aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) participating in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The squadron won the Top Hook Award for the cruise and returned from Operation Desert Storm in April 1991 only to return to the area again in December 1991.
In February 1994, the Marauders returned from a six month deployment aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) during which VFA-82 participated in Operation Southern Watch in Iraq, Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard in Bosnia and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
In August 1995 through February 1996, the Marauders joined the USS AMERICA (CV 66) for her last cruise. During this deployment, they set an all time high for the FA-18 with an unprecedented 6,021 flight hours. As 1995 came to an end, the Marauders' hard work and dedication had paid off. VFA-82 was awarded their third Battle "E", and won the 1995 Captain Michael J. Estocin Award for being the top strike fighter squadron in the Navy. VFA-82 was also recognized for its excellent maintenance record by receiving the Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic Maintenance Award for 1995 and the Carrier Air Wing ONE "Golden Wrench" Award.
The Marauders took off running in 1996 with an aggressive turn-around training program in preparation for the next deployment cycle. This included detachments to Canada, Puerto Rico, Yuma, Arizona and Hampton, Virginia. In August, the Marauders said a fond farewell to "The Big Dog" USS AMERICA (CV 66) by participating in the Air Wing ONE Decommissioning flyby in Norfolk, Virginia. VFA-82 finished the year in Fallon, Nevada honing both their air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics. It was during this time that the squadron achieved another milestone by flying its 40,000th mishap-free flight hour.
During 1997, the Marauders participated in the Airwing exercise in Fallon, Nevada and underway periods onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) in preparation for the October 1997 Mediterranean deployment. VFA-82 won the Airwing Golden Wrench Award for the period of 2 June to 14 June 1997 during COMPTUEX 97. During September, current and past Marauders participated in the 30th Anniversary Reunion celebration held at Cecil Field, Florida.
From October 1997 through April 1998, the Marauders were forward deployed onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. During this timeframe VFA-82 surpassed over 11 years and 45,000 hours of Class Alpha mishap-free flying and won the Airwing Golden Wrench Award for the period 1 December 1997 to 31 January 1998.
In May 1998, the Marauders embarked on USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) for Fleet Week in New York City. Initially homeported at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, VFA-82 changed homeport to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina following Deployment in USS John F. Kennedy. July 1998 found VFA-82 in Langley, Virginia for air-to-air training with U.S. Air Force F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing. In September 1998, the Marauders participated in exercise "Ambitious Venture 98-1" with MiG-29s in Laage, Germany.
In November and December 1998, the Marauders were embarked on the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), for her shakedown cruise. During 1998 the Marauders operated from the decks of three different U.S. aircraft carriers and visited seven different countries. For their superb performance throughout a demanding year, the Marauders were awarded their fourth Battle "E" and the Captain Michael J. Estocin award for excellence among fleet FA-18 squadrons.
The Marauders of VFA-82 remained busy since returning from cruise in mid-March 2000. The Marauders were involved in numerous endeavors which included the first large detachment since coming home. The month of May 2000 saw VFA-82 flying in the local area. Sorties included both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. For many pilots, the month provided the first chance to see the Townsend Range, which is the primary bombing range for MCAS Beaufort. Toward the end of the month, the Marauders also participated in a Marine close air support exercise. Also during the month, the Marauders sent a jet and a handful of personnel to NAS Fallon, NV to support the May Top Gun class. All in all, May provided good flying opportunities while allowing time for Marauders to explore their new surroundings.
With June 2000 came the first large detachment of the turnaround. The first couple of weeks of June were much like the month of May, though there was an emphasis placed on Basic Fighter Maneuvering (BFM) to prepare for the upcoming detachment. On 17 June 2000, much of the squadron packed up and headed for Gulfport, MS for a two-week air-to-air detachment. In Gulfport, the Marauders met the 184th Fighter Squadron, an Air National Guard unit from Ft. Smith, AR. For the first week, the pilots of VFA-82 squared off against the Razorbacks from the 184th and their F-16's in mainly 1v1 BFM engagements. The second week moved into 2v2's and 4v4's with VFA-82 providing the Razorbacks with adversary support.
Immediately upon return to South Carolina, the Marauders began preparations for returning to the carrier. The first week of July 2000 was spent flying Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) sorties. On the 11th of July, USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) left Norfolk with a handful of Marauders onboard. The next morning, the first VFA-82 jets arrived overhead to assist ROOSEVELT in getting her flight deck certified. As a bonus, almost all the Marauder pilots got the chance to get some traps for the first time since March. During August much of the squadron went to Puerto Rico in mid-August for a two-week Orange Air detachment in support of the TRUMAN Battle Group. Many others were traveling to schools around the country.
The squadron accelerated its operational tempo in September 2004 to prepare for a surge deployment aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to the Western Pacific. With less than a month's notice, VFA-82 deployed 10 combat ready F/A-18C Hornets, 14 pilots, more than 200 personnel and the requisite support equipment.
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 82 received official word in November 2004 that its would disestablish at the end of Fiscal Year 2005. On Aug. 10, the Navy notified Congress of their plan to disestablish VFA-82. Following their expected return to MCAS Bearufort in early 2005, the Marauders of VFA-82 would begin the gradual process of reallocating their aircraft and personnel to other fleet commands.
VFA-82 will disestablish September 30, 2005.
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