Patrol Squadron FIVE [VP-5]
Patrol Squadron FIVE was commissioned in September 1942 as Bombing Squadron 135 at Whidbey Island, Washington. It was nicknamed the "Blind Fox" squadron and was assigned the PBY "Catalina" aircraft. In less than a month the squadron received a new aircraft, Lockheed's PV-1 "Vega Ventura", which was flown in several bombing missions during World War II. In 1948 the squadron received its first Lockheed P2V "Neptune" aircraft which contained the Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD). Shortly thereafter the squadron became know as the "Mad Foxes" and in December 1948 was designated Patrol Squadron FIVE.
Jacksonville, Florida became the permanent home of the "Mad Foxes" in December 1949. In the years following VP-5 made deployments to Bermuda, Sicily, Spain, the Azores, Puerto Rico, Iceland, Newfoundland, and the Philippines. The "Mad Foxes" were awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" in 1951, 1952 and 1958. Patrol Squadron FIVE aided in the recovery of America's first astronaut, Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on 5 May 1961, and was one of the first units ordered into action during the Cuban quarantine.
In June 1966, VP-5 transitioned to the Lockheed P-3A "Orion" aircraft and attained unequaled recognition for ASW proficiency. Specifically, VP-5 earned consecutive Battle Efficiency "E" awards in 1975 and 1976; Meritorious Unit Commendations in 1976 and 1982; the Navy Expeditionary Medal for their support of the 1982 Lebanon evacuation; the "Hook Em" awards in 1977, 1981 and 1982 and the Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy for ASW excellence in 1982. VP-5 also received the COMPATWING ELEVEN Bronze Anchor Award and the COMNAVAIRLANT Silver Anchor for retention excellence in 1983.
In 1986, it was VP-5 on top of the disabled Soviet Yankee class submarine in the final hours prior to its sinking. Deployed to the Bermuda sector, the "Mad Foxes" provided sole coverage of the event keeping U.S. officials informed during a crucial period. The deployment earned a Silver Anchor for retention excellence, the Top Gunner Award for outstanding weapons proficiency and the CINCLANTFLT Athletic Excellence Award.
While completing preparations for their 1989-1990 Bermuda deployment the "Mad Foxes" transitioned from the baseline P-3C to the state of the art P-3C Update III. Operating from Bermuda VP-5 participated in UNITAS XXX, an ASW training exercise that spanned five months in which the "Mad Foxes" operated from nearly every South American country.
In 1991, the "Mad Foxes" deployed to Rota, Spain with extended detachments to Lajes, Sigonella and Souda Bay in direct support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Participating in numerous NATO exercises, including Dogfish, Damsel Fair and Dragon Hammer, the "Mad Foxes" provided outstanding support for COMSIXTHFLT objectives and again prosecuted front-line Russian submarines.
Departing for Keflavik, Iceland in September 1992, VP-5 participated in operations stressing NATO interoperability and the P-3's role in coastal warfare. Upon return to Florida the squadron was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" for the 1992 calendar year.
In February 1994, VP-5 began a rigorous tri-site deployment which included "Gatekeeper" duties in Keflavik, air support for Operation Sharp Guard in the Adriatic based out of Sigonella, and a significant detachment in Jacksonville, FL. The deployment encompassed over 4000 flight hours with operations spanning much of the European theater. It marked a first for U.S. operations with Baltic states such as Poland and Lithuania.
During the 1994-1995 home cycle VP-5 played a significant role in squadron and aircraft realignments and operational support with the decommissioning of VP-24.
In August 1995, VP-5 began yet another demanding tri-site deployment that split the squadron among Keflavik, Puerto Rico and Panama. For the first time ever one squadron met the operational requirements of the entire Atlantic Ocean, previously fulfilled by two squadrons. From ASW and NATO interoperability flights up North to drug interdiction flights down South, VP-5 completed the mission amassing over 6000 flight hours.
The "Mad Foxes" succeeded again in their home cycle, exceeding Wing goals for mine readiness, operational readiness and NATOPS inspections in addition to participation in UNITAS. In February of 1997 they again deployed to Keflavik, Puerto Rico, and Panama where they conducted ASW, anti-drug ops, and training exercises. The coordinated efforts of VP-5 and other forces in the equatorial region interdicted $33 billion dollars worth of drugs (street value) during the six-month period.
Upon arriving home in August of 1997, the "Mad Foxes" began a demanding home cycle in preparation for being the first East Coast VP Squadron to receive P-3 aircraft with Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) modifications. In addition to training 8 AIP crews, VP-5 exhibited outstanding performance in the areas of NATOPS inspections and operational readiness. Additionally, they participated in UNITAS, JTFEX and detached operations to Keflavik, Iceland.
The "Mad Foxes" deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in August of 1998, flying missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation Deliberate Forge and over Kosovo in Operation Eagle Eye -- ongoing peace-keeping efforts in the region. While deployed to Sigonella, VP-5 flew over 5000 hours including 458 operational sorties, over 200 of those over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and carried over 200,000 pounds of ordnance while providing battle group force protection for U.S. carrier battle groups engaged in Operation Flexible Anvil. The Mad Foxes were the first to deploy P-3C AIP-equipped assets over Kosovo and Bosnia, bringing the first true all weather day and night overland reconnaissance capability to the theater. The Squadron returned home in February of 1999, and was awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle 'E' for 1998 and received the COMPATWING ELEVEN nomination for the Golden Wrench Award.
Safe, effective and unsurpassed in combat readiness, by late 2000 VP-5 had flown over 21 years accident-free, including over 118,000 flight hours.
VP-5 returned from a deployment to Sigonella in Feb. 2002. During the past six months, the Mad Foxes successfully completed a split-site deployment to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete. While deployed to the Mediterranean, the squadron safely executed more than 1,100 missions encompassing 6,600 flight hours in support of the theater commander's objectives.
In response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, VP-5 broadened their focus to begin conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The squadron expeditiously relocated nearly 40 percent of its combat aircrews and P-3C Orions to NSA Souda Bay, to gain a geographic advantage for Eastern Mediterranean operations.
In conjunction with ongoing operational tasking, the Mad Foxes participated in numerous exercises to remain proficient in the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPR) community's wide-ranging mission areas, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and to strengthen ties with various Mediterranean allies.
Since August 2001, the Mad Foxes supported 17 multi-national
exercises, including Destined Glory with Spain; Bright Star with
Egypt and Noble Dina with Israel. Furthermore, the squadron's
commitment to training resulted in the qualification of five patrol
plane commanders, three patrol plane tactical coordinators and
10 mission commanders, as well as numerous enlisted aircrew
and ground personnel qualifications.
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