Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 56 (VR-56)
Fleet Logistics Squadron Five Six (VR-56) provides around-the world logistical support to all branches of our Armed Forces. VR-56 has also been the head of an Executive Transport mission which carries the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and many U.S. Congressional personnel and other VIPs throughout the world. The squadron operates five McDonnell Douglas C-9B "Skytrain II" aircraft. It is the military version of the very popular DC-9 commercial airliner.
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FIVE SIX (VR-56) was established at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia in July 1975. One year later, in July 1976, VR-56 was commissioned as a Reserve Force Squadron. VR-56 is one of fourteen logistics squadrons in the United States Navy and reports to Commander, Fleet Logistics Support Wing based at NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas, operationally and administratively. For scheduling, VR-56 reports to Naval Air Logistics Office (NALO) in New Orleans, Louisiana and Joint Operational Support Airlift Central (JOSAC) at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
VR-56 is composed of active duty and selected reserve personnel and provides around-the-clock worldwide logistics support for the Navy and Marine regular and reserve forces. The squadron operates four McDonnell Douglas C-9B "Skytrain II" aircraft. Each aircraft is normally manned with a crew of six and is capable of carrying 90 passengers or 27,000 pounds of cargo or a combination of both. Since establishment, VR-56 has compiled in excess of 110,000 accident free hours, flown more than 40 million miles, carried over 1.2 million passengers and 30 thousand tons of cargo.
Safety, versatility, and dependability are key words in describing the mission of the squadron. Over 220 detachments covering six continents have provided logistics support, trail maintenance, and worldwide path-finding service. Cargo has included everything from endangered species to critical war-fighting material for Operation DESERT STORM. VR-56 was the first squadron on the ground in Beirut after the terrorist attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in 1983, ferrying vitally needed medical personnel and supplies, and evacuating wounded. More recently, VR-56 aircraft flew several short notice missions into Croatia during Operation PROVIDE PROMISE and Somalia during Operation RESTORE HOPE. This past year the squadron evacuated all U.S. Embassy personnel in Belgrade, Yugoslavia prior to hostilities in that theater. VR-56 also flew several short notice missions around the globe in support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Navy. The C-9B's sophisticated navigation and communication equipment, coupled with the proven airframe and powerplant, are key elements in the squadron's global reliability.
In April of 1989, VR-56 received its second Noel Davis Trophy, the Naval Air Reserve Force Battle Efficiency award. This annual award recognizes outstanding readiness levels, training and safety programs, and retention figures, and is the Naval Air Reserve Force's way of saying "Well Done" to its best squadrons. In 1993, VR-56 won the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award and the Commander, Naval Air Reserve Force "Readiness Through Safety" Award, the latter being awarded for the first time ever to a logistics squadron. In 1995, the squadron was recognized as the best operational Fleet Logistics Support Squadron by winning the Congressman Bill Chappel Award and was co-winner of the James M. Holcombe Award for possessing the top Maintenance Department in the Wing. The Squadron was also recognized for its personnel retention program by winning the COMFLELOGSUPPWING CY-96 and CY-97 Excellence in Career Information Program Management Award. In 1998, VR-56 was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, while also receiving its third Noel Davis Trophy Battle Efficiency Award, the 1998 James M. Holcombe Award and JOSAC Large Aircraft Unit of the Year Award for FY-99.
VR-56 conducts extensive training programs to ensure the highest degree of proficiency and professionalism among its pilots and aircrew. In the event of mobilization and recall of military reserve forces of the United States, VR-56 is prepared and would conduct the same mission it performs throughout the year. Through reserve squadrons such as VR-56, military readiness is maintained to enable quick response to any world situation. 52 officers man the squadron, 38 of who are Selected Reserves and approximately 210 enlisted personnel, 113 being reservists.
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