Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR THREE [VF-143]
Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR THREE [VFA-143]
VFA-143, home based at NAS OCEANA Virginia, flies the F/A-18 Super Hornet. In September of 2005, VF-143 finished its transition from the F-14B Tomcat to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and was redesignated VFA-143. VF-143 is currently attached to CVW-7.
The World Famous Pukin' Dogs were originally commissioned in 1949 as VF-871, a reserve squadron, and were known as the "Griffins." From their home at NAS Alameda, the Griffins were called to active duty on 20 July, 1950. The squadron took the F4U-4 Corsair to war in Korea from the decks of the USS PRINCETON (CV 37) in early 1951 and the USS ESSEX (CVA 9) in 1952. During the next eleven years, the squadron changed aircraft and designations twice; designated as VF-123, flying both the F9F-2 Panther and F9F-8 Cougar, and then as VF-53, flying the F3H-2 Demon. On 20 June, 1962, the squadron was redesignated VF-143 and transitioned to the F4H-1 Phantom II ( later redesignated the F-4B). VF-143 first went to sea aboard USS CONSTELLATION in February 1963, for a WESTPAC cruise. Operating as part of CVW-14, the following year, the squadron became involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident and flew in the Pierce Arrow attacks on North Vietnamese naval facilities on 5 August 1964. In the succeeding years, the Pukin' Dogs moved on to the F-4J and recorded seven combat deployments to Vietnam. The squadron, stationed at NAS Mirimar, CA, flew massive air strikes and Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions before trading in their Phantoms for Tomcats.
On April 1, 1975, after completion of F-14A Tomcat transition training, the Pukin' Dogs permanently moved to their present home at NAS Oceana, VA. As part of CVW-6, VF-143 made its first F-14 carrier deployment aboard USS AMERICA from 15 April to 25 October 1976. During this Mediterranean deployment, the squadron participated in "Operation Fluid Drive", providing CAP for the evacuation of American citizens from Beirut in 1976. After a subsequent south Atlantic cruise (10 June to 19 July 1977) and Mediterranean cruise (29 September 1977 to 25 April 1978), the Pukin' Dogs moved on to a new carrier and airwing.
In the fall of 1978, VF-143 joined USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and Carrier Air Wing SEVEN. In 1979, they made IKE's first major deployment to the Mediterranean Sea from 16 January to 13 July. Fighter Squadron One Hundred Forty-Three completed a record-breaking Indian Ocean deployment of 254 days with only five days in port during the Iranian hostage crisis. VF-143 and the IKE spent 152 days continuously at sea after replacing USS NIMITZ during the 1980 cruise. The squadron then made a brief Norlant cruise, between 17 August and 7 October, and participated in NATO's Exercise Ocean Adventure. During the following 1982 Mediterranean deployment, the Pukin' Dogs, with three Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) equipped aircraft, once again provided CAP for the evacuation of American citizens from war-torn Beirut in June of that year.
During the 1983 MED deployment, VF-143 TARPS played a vital role in providing the Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Lebanon with invaluable intelligence of enemy troop movements and artillery positions in the mountains outside of Beirut. The Dogs completed 45 combat TARPS missions over Lebanon. VF-143 then made two Caribbean and Norlant cruises before returning to the IKE and the MED on 11 October 1984 where they again found themselves involved in a worsening Lebanon situation. After a lengthy break from sea operations, VF-143 returned to the IKE for a MED cruise from 29 February to 29 August of 1988. In 1989, the Dogs made the transition to the Navy's newest Tomcat, the F-14B, with the new GE F110-400 series engines capable of producing up to 30,000 pounds of thrust each.
The Pukin' Dogs found 1990 to be a highly successful year as they won the FFARP trophy for the second consecutive year and achieved the highest score in FFARP history. VF-143 also won the Tactical Reconnaissance (TACRECCE) trophy, an unprecedented dual victory in the same year. The squadron was also nominated for the Navy's 1990 Arleigh Burke Award and the 1990 Department of Defense Phoenix Award for aviation maintenance.
The successes of 1990 became more evident in early 1991 when VF-143 was awarded COMNAVAIRLANT's 1990 Battle "E" as the Atlantic Fleet's finest fighter squadron. In addition, the Pukin' Dogs were awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Rear Admiral Joseph C. Clifton Award which designated VF-143 the Navy's finest fighter squadron. Making history in May 1991, during the Air Wing's second detachment to NAS Fallon, NV, the Dogs became the first fleet Tomcat squadron to drop live air-to-ground ordinance. In September, the squadron deployed to the Arabian Gulf in Support of Operation Desert Storm where new standards were set in joint operations between the Navy, Air Force, and numerous coalition air forces. The Pukin' Dogs returned to the Gulf in October of 1991. The cruise took them into the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea where NATO forces and the IKE Battle Group teamed up above the Arctic Circle for cold weather operations during "TEAMWORK 92"
In August 1992, the Pukin' Dogs and the rest of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN were reassigned to the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. VF-143 deployed on the GW on her maiden "shakedown" cruise, and then again for her very first Mediterranean deployment in May 1994, where she took part in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day invasion and Operation Deny Flight. This cruise was highlighted by the stellar performance of the squadron in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Arabian Gulf, particularly for the crucial TARPS imagery it provided.
In December 1995, the World Famous Pukin' Dogs completed their turnaround training cycle and departed on their second cruise in fifteen months. The preparation quickly paid off as the Dogs found themselves flying over Bosnia in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor and the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. Carrier Air Wing SEVEN relied heavily on the Pukin' Dogs to fill every role providing aircraft and personnel for TARPS, FAC(A), air superiority, and air-to-ground missions. Additionally, the Pukin' Dogs participated in joint exercises with the Netherlands, Spain, France, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. The Pukin' Dogs returned to Oceana in July 1996, having flown over 1400 missions while enjoying an unprecedented 99.3% sortie completion rate.
The Pukin' Dogs returned from the maiden deployment of the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), with over 131 days spent in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. VF-143 played key roles using LANTIRN, night vision goggles, and digital TARPS.
As of late 1999 Fighter Squadron 143, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, was one of two F-14 squadrons attached to Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7). A pilot and his radar intercept officer assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 (VF 143) safely ejected from their F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft during launch from USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) during a training exercise Thursday, 21 October 1999 in the Caribbean Sea. Both aviators were recovered from the sea by a search and rescue unit attached to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 5 (HS 5). The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Raymond Worthington and his radar intercept officer, Lt. Cmdr. (sel) Timothy L. Gamache, walked off the rescue helicopter under their own power and are being treated for minor injuries aboard Eisenhower. Both the air wing and Eisenhower were participating in a joint training exercise called "COMPTUEX" in preparation for a six-month deployment scheduled for early 2000.
In March of 2002, VF-143, along with the rest of CVW-7, was embarked on USS John F. Kennedy as it began operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Pukin Dogs returned in August 2002. They were deployed again onboard USS George Washington in 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In September of 2005, VF-143 finished its transition from the F-14B Tomcat to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and was redesignated VFA-143.
As of February 2006, VFA-143 is underway with CVW-7 on board USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Team "769" is gearing up for Surge Ready status. Ike is starting her underway Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA), a series of training evolutions that will conclude with a Final Evaluation Period (FEP).
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