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Strike Fighter Squadron Marks 70th Birthday, Two Years Flying New Super Hornets

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS200430-02
Release Date: 4/30/2020 8:48:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ashley Lowe,

ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- The Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 found themselves on the battlefront aboard aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) as they celebrated the squadron's 70th birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony, April 25.

According to VFA-83 Command Master Chief Shane Edwards and numerous Rampager team members, the squadron has been known for excellence throughout history.

"Whether in 1950 or 2020, our aviators and maintainers bring a focused chaos and precision to our missions that is second to none," said Edwards. "We're defending our country's and the Navy's interests around the world. We'll continue to do that as long as those requirements are placed upon us."

The skills and mentality the Rampagers exhibit to defend the United States' interests are exemplary, said Cmdr. Bryce Abbott, VFA-83's executive officer.

"The life of a Navy strike fighter squadron is full of rigor and change," Abbott said. "The Rams have operated in every major combat theatre, deployed from such historic decks as the Saipan, midway and coral sea, and flown everything from the F4U Corsair to our modern F/A-18E Super Hornet.

"The dedication and endurance required to carry on this legacy that we have inherited takes a special kind of determination exemplified by every Ram and Ike Sailor, and I'm proud to count myself among them."

In 2018, the squadron received their first F/A-18E Super Hornets as they transitioned out of flying F/A-18 Hornets, which they have flown since the late 1980s.

"Right before we transitioned to Super Hornets we had Battle E, Safety S, the Maintenance Wrench awards," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Kane Meyer. "That was us just trying to complete the mission the best we could. Now that we have Super Hornets, we're out here training other people to take care of their jets better, because we're all part of the same team."

Not only has the squadron adjusted to maintaining and flying a new model of jet, they have done so safely.

"We just eclipsed over 100,000 flight hours without a class eight mishap," said Cmdr. Luke Johnson, VFA-83's commanding officer. "That tells me that the Rampagers have been professional this whole time, and the folks we have now continue to be. They do it right every single day and I think this squadron has always been that way."

One of many reasons that the Rampagers are an exceptional team may be their strong morale and camaraderie. Ramily is a term Rampagers use when they refer to their team. It's short for Ram family.

Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Matthew Knox accounts morale and integrity as the one of many reasons the rampagers are an exceptional team and a characteristic that sets the squadron's efforts apart from other commands.

"I've actually come to learn why they have their reputation on the flight line," said Knox. "They have a lot of integrity and take care of each other from the top down, which makes them like a family."

Upon his arrival, Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Kadeem McFarland was impressed with the close-knit community and how well the team works together.

"When I first got to this command, I walked through the door and felt like I was already at home with family," said McFarland. "I've never seen a command move as a unit the way the Rampagers do. Everyone I've met who's come and gone says this is one of the best commands they've been assigned to, and I'm proud to say that this is the best command I've been a part of."

For some of the more junior Sailors, part of their motivation comes from wanting to keep the positive environment intact.

"Every day is something new to look forward to," said Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Alec Marano. "You never know what's going to be around the corner. This is my first command and it's been very rewarding. I've met a lot of great people who've all helped me achieve my goals and I'd like to keep the effort going and make them all proud."

Like Marano, Johnson is proud of the Rampagers and wants to preserve the positivity of their team.

"It's great being here," said Johnson. "I think we do set the example for the other squadrons in the way we do business and conduct ourselves. It's an interesting deployment and when you go out on the flight deck it seems like our folks have smiles on their faces and are enthusiastic about their jobs. They make me proud to be a Rampager. It's a great place to be and work."

One thing that the Rampagers take pride in and share with each other is their tag line. When described, the "ram on" tag line is a battle cry to motivate our Sailors to get stuff done, eagerness and resiliency, a sense of community, identity and team pride, a form of camaraderie, and something that includes everybody. It's said loud and proud at the conclusion of every gathering of a group of Rampagers.

"We stand ready to take the fight to the enemy," said Edwards. "Happy Birthday, Rampagers. Ram on!"

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