Strike Fighter Squadron TWO SEVEN [VFA-27]
The mission of VFA 27 is to conduct carrier based air strike and strike force escort missions, anti-ship operations, battle group anti-air operations, and surveillance/intelligence collection operations in support of Carrier Air Wing 5 tasking and requirements. The squadron is permanently forward deployed with CVW 5, shore based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan and embarked on USS Kitty Hawk.
The Royal Maces were commissioned Attack Squadron 27 on 1 September 1967 flying the Vought A-7A "Corsair", and in January 1968, the squadron officially reported to Carrier Air Wing 14. In May of 1968, as the Vietnam conflict raged, the "Royal Maces" departed for their first combat deployment aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64). During a second combat cruise, aboard USS CONSTELLATION in August 1969, VA-27 flew over 2,500 combat sorties. Attack Squadron 27 transitioned to the newer A-7E on 30 June 1970, and a year later the Royal Maces embarked on their third combat cruise aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65). Squadron pilots amassed over 4,400 combat flight hours from the deck of the Big "E" and participated in over 1,500 air strikes without the loss of a single aircraft.
In July 1972, Attack Squadron 27 was awarded the annual Admiral C. Wade McClusky Trophy by the Chief of Naval Operations as the most outstanding Attack Squadron in the Navy. Additionally, the squadron received the Chief of Naval Safety Award for accident-free operations during that same period. The Royal Maces commenced their fourth combat deployment in September 1972 and completed the year by winning the coveted Battle Efficiency Pennant, making a clean sweep of every award for excellence in the Light Attack Community for 1972.
The squadron began its next deployment to the Western Pacific in September 1974. The Royal Maces flew surveillance missions over Vietnam and flew escort for United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force helicopters during the evacuation of American and Vietnamese personnel as part of Operation FREQUENT WIND. In 1979, the Royal Maces joined USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) for two more Western Pacific deployments. In 1984 VA 27 joined Carrier Air Wing 15 and deployed aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) for a 7 1/2 month Western Pacific cruise, which included a 107 day Indian Ocean line period.
After 23 years in the A-7E, 14 deployments, thousands of combat hours and numerous unit awards, in 1991 the Royal Maces transitioned to the F/A 18A Hornet and were officially re-designated the "Chargers" of Strike Fighter Squadron 27. In November 1992, VFA-27 deployed aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) as part of the CVW 15 "Wolfpack" for a Western Pacific deployment. During December 1992, the "Chargers," operating off the coast of Somalia in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE, flew 2,500 miles to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to augment United States Central Command's multi-national coalition Air Forces supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. After rejoining the "Hawk" Battle Group as they steamed into the Arabian Gulf, the squadron participated in a coalition night strike against Iraq on 13 January 1993, delivering over 18,000 pounds of ordnance on target.
In June 1994, the Chargers again deployed aboard the "HAWK" for Western Pacific deployment 1994. Throughout cruise, the Kitty Hawk Battle Group operated off the coasts of Japan and South Korea as a deterrent to possible North Korean aggression. By December 1994, the Chargers had completed their 16th Western Pacific cruise.
Returning from cruise in December 1994, the squadron transitioned to F/A 18C's and began preparations for a homeport change to Atsugi, Japan. In 1995 the Chargers employed their new F/A 18C's during several Joint Training Exercises with Canada and the U.S. Air Force.
In 1996, VFA-27 commenced their homeport change to Atsugi, Japan. The Chargers culminated an intensive training period in May by firing six AIM-9L and 4 AIM-7M in a single day. On June 4 1996, the newly re-designated "Royal Maces" flew all 12 squadron aircraft from Lemoore California to Atsugi, Japan to join the CVW-5/USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62) "I-5" Team.
In 1997, the "Royal Maces" completed a year of travel and integration. The squadron participated in a number of joint operations while deployed on board USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62). Some of the highlights included Operations TANDEM THRUST in Australia, FOAL EAGLE in Korea, and COPE NORTH in Japan. The "INDY" also made a historic trip to Guam. This port call marked the first time a U.S. carrier had visited Guam in over thirty years. Operating out of Naval Air Facility Atsugi the "Maces" detached to Kadena, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Misawa. The high tempo of operations in 1997 kept VFA-27 well prepared for their role as the "tip-of-the-spear."
In 1998, the "Royal Maces" had a very extensive deployment schedule. Beginning in January, they began an emergency deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and returned home to NAF Atsugi in June. After only 4 weeks at home the squadron once again boarded the ship to steam to the Island State of Hawaii to take the USS Independence on her final voyage home in preparation for her decommissioning. After participating in RIMPAC 98, the squadron and USS Independence made port in Pearl Harbor to begin the transfer of aircraft, material and personnel to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). The Royal Maces and CVW5, now aboard the USS Kitty Hawk began their return journey to Yokosuka, Japan, arriving home the last week of August. Immediately the squadron completed several Major Inspection cycles and prepared once again for their fall deployment. Departing home in early October, the squadron deployed with the USS Kitty Hawk to South Korea and the northern coast of Japan to participate in FOAL EAGLE/COPE THUNDER/ANNUALEX 98 exercises. Returning in November, the command commenced a much needed and well-deserved standown.
In 1999, the "Royal Maces" began the year off in fine fashion. They became the 1998 recipients of the coveted Battle "E" award. On this high note the squadron made preparations for its WESTPAC Spring deployment, departing Yokosuka in March, and once again the Hawk/Five team were called upon to sortie to the Arabian Gulf. During this 6-month deployment the squadron participated in flights over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and was called upon several times to perform retaliatory strikes. It was during this time period the "Royal Maces" successfully deployed and demonstrated the exceptional and unique capabilities of the Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW). Returning home in August, the squadron enjoyed a short stand down period and prepared for their fall deployment. Departing in September, the Hawk/Five team participated in FOAL EAGLE/COPE THUNDER/ANNUALEX 99 exercises, returning home in November.
In 2000, the "Royal Maces" began their spring deployment in March with a large detachment to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam for their Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program training. Boarding the Kitty Hawk in Guam, the second week of April, the squadron participated in TANDEM THRUST 2000 exercises and then made for port calls in Singapore and Pattaya Beach Thailand. After successful participation in the COBRA GOLD exercise with the government of Thailand, the squadron made a port of call to Hong Kong and returned home to NAF Atsugi in June. Departing in September, the Hawk/Five team participated in FOAL EAGLE/COPE THUNDER/ANNUALEX 2000 exercises, making port calls in Otaru, Japan and Pusan, Korea, finally returning home in November.
The Royal Maces of Strike Fighter Squadron 27 left USS Kitty Hawk in May 2004 to begin a transition from the F/A-18 Hornet to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. To accomplish the switch to Super Hornets, the Royal Maces will spend four months at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., for familiarization training with the newer planes. Although training doesn't begin until June, the squadron is transitioning off Kitty Hawk early. Enlisted Sailors will go to the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit in Lemoore, as well as other Super Hornet squadrons, for on-the-job training, and to learn about the new aircraft. Sailors will learn about the new technology on the Super Hornets, such as the joint helmet mounted cueing system, part of the Super Hornet's new display system. VFA-27's pilots will learn to fly and operate them with Fleet Replacement Squadron (VFA) 122. With the new knowledge and training, the service members of VFA-27 will take on a new role. Like VFA-102 of the Kitty Hawk Strike Group, the squadron will take on the role of air-to-air refueling, or "tanking."
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