Patrol Squadron EIGHT [VP-8]
Patrol Squadron EIGHT was commissioned in September 1942 as Patrol Squadron 201 in Norfolk, Virginia. During World War II, VP-201 flew more than 28,000 hours in the sea-based PBM "Mariner" from Norfolk, Key West, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal Zone combating the German submarines that were threatening allied shipping throughout the Atlantic.
In June 1947, the squadron moved to Quonset Point, Rhode Island and began to operate the land-based P-2V "Neptune" aircraft. With the move and transition, the squadron was redesignated Medium Patrol Squadron EIGHT and in September 1948, the squadron received its current designation, Patrol Squadron EIGHT. In 1950, VP-8 was awarded its first Battle "E".
In March 1958, the squadron changed its homeport to Chincoteague, Virginia. Throughout the remainder of the Fifties, the squadron actively participated in the evolution of antisubmarine warfare, including development and evaluation of new tactics and equipment. Their success in improving antisubmarine warfare was recognized with the awarding of a second Battle "E" in 1960.
Patrol Squadron EIGHT moved to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in July 1961. After relinquishing the last of its P-2Vs to the U. S. Naval Reserve in October 1962, VP-8 became the fleet's first operational P-3A "Orion" squadron.
Following extensive operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and detachments to Iceland, Ireland, Newfoundland, Argentina, Bermuda, and other Caribbean locations, the VP-8 Tigers were awarded their third Battle "E" and the Isbell Trophy for excellence in airborne ASW.
The squadron's first deployment to the Western Pacific occurred in June 1966 when it deployed to Naval Station Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines. During this deployment, VP-8 flew combat missions throughout Southeast Asia in support of Commander, Seventh Fleet.
From 1969 to 1974, the squadron made numerous deployments to Bermuda. In July 1971, Patrol Squadron EIGHT was transferred to its present homeport at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine. In February 1976, the squadron returned to Brunswick after a split-site deployment to Rota, Spain and Lajes, Azores. As a result of their outstanding airborne ASW exploits throughout the Atlantic, VP-8 received the Navy Unit Commendation.
During February through August 1978, the Fighting Tigers again conducted a split-site deployment to Bermuda and Lajes, Azores. Due to their deployment achievments throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean AORs, the squadron was awarded the Navy Unit Commandation. Patrol Squadron EIGHT ended the Seventies with a split-site deployment to Rota/Lajes. From July to December 1979, the Tigers operated out of 12 different sites from the Equator to Iceland and were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
After successful completion of another Rota/Lajes deployment in October 1980, Commander, Sixth Fleet awarded the Tigers the "Hook'em" Award in recognition of exceptional ASW operations. VP-8 was the last Atlantic Fleet squadron to fly the P-3B aircraft. During the early 1980s Patrol Squadron EIGHT made numerous deployments to Bermuda and Sigonella, Sicily. These successful deployments earned VP-8 the 1983 Battle "E" Award, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, and another Sixth Fleet "Hook'em" Award. The late Eighties again found Patrol Squadron EIGHT deployed to Rota and Lajes. VP-8's success during these deployments earned them their fourth Isbell Trophy, the third in ten years, and one more Sixth Fleet "Hook'em" Award.
In December 1990, the squadron deployed to the Central Mediterranean in support of national interests in the region. The Tigers operated out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. This conflict reemphasized the multi-mission capabilities of the P-3C in coordinated operations with the Carrier Battle Group. In addition, the Tigers continued to prove their effectiveness against front line soviet submarines in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and were awarded another "Hook'em" Award by Commander, Sixth Fleet. In recognition of their outstanding performance in 1991, VP-8 was awarded its fifth Battle "E".
In July 1992, Patrol Squadron EIGHT began a seven month split-site deployment to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and Rota, Spain. Operating out of Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, the Tigers flew over 6,000 hours in support of counternarcotic operations. Simultaneously, VP-8 aircrews flew in support of Sixth Fleet operations in the Mediterranean and established numerous other detachment sites including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Key West, Florida; Sigonella, Sicily; and Lajes, Azores. The squadron returned to Brunswick in January 1993 completing their second consecutive year of flying over 8,000 hours, the highest in the Atlantic Fleet. This deployment marked the 30th anniversary of the Lockheed "Orion" and highlighted its valuable multi-mission versatility to the Navy and Joint Task Forces.
On 14 October 1993, Patrol Squadron EIGHT reached a historic milestone of 100,000 hours of accident free flying. During this home cycle, Tiger aircrews detached and flew numerous missions in the Adriatic Sea, Iceland, and Turkey culminating in the first ever Black Sea ASW mission. Patrol Squadron EIGHT returned to Puerto Rico in January 1994 and established detachments at Howard AFB, Panama and Soto Cano, Honduras. They flew nearly 5,000 hours of counternarcotic operations resulting in the seizure of 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and marijuana valued at over a quarter of a billion dollars.
In January 1995, Patrol Squadron EIGHT was awarded its first CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for outstanding personnel retention. This also marked the first time a patrol squadron had won this prestigious award since 1985. In January 1996, Patrol Squadron EIGHT returned from another Sigonella deployment where they flew more than 900 sorties and 6,000 hours in support of Operations Sharp Guard and Decisive Enhancement. VP-8 was again recognized for their ASW prowess by being awarded the Isbell Trophy by Commander, Patrol Wings Atlantic.
A six-month Mediterranean deployment by Patrol Squadron Eight ended 10 August 1997. While deployed to the Mediterranean, the Tigers flew more than 100 Operation Deliberate Guard surveillance missions supporting Stabilization Force peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia. Additionally, VP-8 conducted 42 missions in support of Operation Silver Wake, which contributed directly to the safe evacuation of 889 personnel from Albania. VP-8 aircrews flew more than 4,000 operational flight hours during the six-month period; made possible by the Tiger maintenance team's upkeep of nine P-3C aircraft. Patrol Squadron Eight participated in 27 multinational exercises; including detachments to South Africa, Spain, Crete, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Iceland. The Tigers showcased their undersea and surface warfare skills while working with Mediterranean allies and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Groups. VP-8 participated in NATO's Partnership for Peace exercises Cooperative Banners and BALTOPS 97. During their deployment the Tigers accomplished a 98 percent mission completion rate and an incident-free safety record. In addition to supporting high-tempo operations, the Tigers assisted the local Italian community. Throughout the deployment, squadron members lent a helping hand at the Pecorino Institute, a Sicilian orphanage, performing facility maintenance and various odd jobs.
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