Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143), also known as the "Pukin Dogs," is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The Pukin Dogs are an operational fleet squadron and flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. They are currently attached to Carrier Air Wing Seven and USS Abraham Lincoln.[1] They are currently at their homeport of NAS Oceana. Their radio callsign is Taproom.

Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Three
VFA-143 Insignia
Active20 July 1950 - present
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Navy Seal United States Navy
RoleClose air support
Air interdiction
Aerial reconnaissance
Part ofCarrier Air Wing Seven
Garrison/HQNAS Oceana
Nickname(s)"Pukin Dogs"
Motto(s)Sans Reproache
EngagementsVietnam War
Gulf War
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Inherent Resolve
DecorationsFFARP trophy
Tactical Reconnaissance trophy
Battle Effectiveness "E", 1990
Battle Effectiveness "E",1996
Battle Effectiveness "E", 2004
Battle Effectiveness "E", 2010
Battle Effectiveness "E", 2013
Battle Effectiveness "E", 2016
Joseph C. Clifton Award
Aircraft flown
FighterF4U Corsair
F9F Panther
F3H Demon
F-4 Phantom II
F-14 Tomcat
F/A-18E Super Hornet

Insignia and nicknameEdit

The squadron adopted its current insignia in 1953, a winged black lion on a blue shield. The distinctive squadron name "Pukin' Dogs" came about when the squadron commander's wife saw the creature’s droopy head and gaping mouth design. She stated, in front of the squadron pilots, that it looked like a "pukin' dog." The pilots loved that, and the name stuck.[2] In the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal in 1991, the squadron was forced to officially rename itself the "Dogs". This official banishment was widely ignored until Admiral John Mazach, Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, rescinded the policy in a 1996 speech to the squadron.


Two Navy squadrons have held the designation VF-143. The first VF-143 was established on 20 July 1950 as VF-821 redesignated VF-143 on 4 February 1953 and disestablished on 1 April 1958. The second VF-143 was established in 1950, was eventually redesignated VFA-143, and is the subject of this article.


VF-871 F4U-4 aboard USS Essex in 1952

VF-871, a reserve F4U-4 Corsair squadron based at NAS Alameda called to active duty on 20 July 1950. The squadron deployed twice during the Korean War, flying from the aircraft carriers USS Princeton and USS Essex. On 4 February 1953, the squadron was redesignated VF-123 and transitioned to the F9F-2 Panther. In April 1958 they transitioned to the F3H Demon and were redesignated VF-53.

VF-53 F3H-2s in 1961


On 20 June 1962, the unit was redesignated VF-143 and began its transition to the F-4 Phantom II. They deployed seven times during the Vietnam War. The squadron was credited with the downing of the first MiG-21 in 1967, led by Lt. Cmdr. R.M. "Pacer" Hooper.


The last VF-143 Vietnam deployment commenced in September 1972 with Carrier Air Group 14 aboard USS Enterprise. On 27 January 1973, the last day of official American hostilities, a squadron Phantom was struck by AAA fire near Quảng Trị while performing one of the last combat missions of the war. Executive Officer, Cmdr Harley Hall and his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) ejected near the coast and both were seen alive on the ground by their wingman. Hall's RIO was captured by North Vietnamese and returned from captivity a few months later. Cmdr Hall became the last Naval Aviator listed as missing in action (MIA). Two weeks after the shoot down, however, his status was changed from MIA to "Prisoner of War (POW), authenticated", a designation held until he was declared deceased in February 1980, his remains were identified on 6 September 1994.[3]

VF-143 and VF-142 F-4Js on USS Constellation, 1969/70

The squadron returned to NAS Miramar in June 1973, and three months later made a final Phantom deployment to the Mediterranean. In 1974 VF-143 transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat and then changed homeport to NAS Oceana in 1976. VF-143, along with sister squadron VF-142, were aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for her maiden voyage in 1979.


In 1980 VF-143 deployed to the Indian Ocean in response to the Iran–Iraq War, setting a Navy underway record of 153 days. VF-143 soon gained Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) capability, and provided the first time imagery of the new Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk and the new Soviet Slava-class cruiser. On August 5, 1983, VF-143 intercepted five Libyan Air Force MiG-23s some 220 kilometers (140 mi) south of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mediterranean Sea. No weapons were fired during these encounters but the situation was described as "very tense".[4] The squadron became the first to fly combat TARPS missions when they flew 45 combat reconnaissance sorties over Lebanon in the autumn of 1983.


VF-143 was one of the first squadrons to deploy with the F-14A(+) (later renamed F-14B), in March 1990 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.[2] When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and her battle group rushed to the Red Sea to deter the Iraqis from further advancement into Saudi Arabia. In late August, USS Saratoga relieved USS Dwight D. Eisenhower .

In early 1991, VF-143 was awarded COMNAVAIRLANT's 1990 Battle Efficiency Award as the Atlantic Fleet's finest fighter squadron. In addition, VF-143 was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Rear Admiral Joseph C. Clifton Award. In May 1991 during the Air Wing's detachment to NAS Fallon, VF-143 dropped air-to-ground ordnance for the first time. In September, the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf, and participated NATO exercises in the Norwegian Sea.[2]

In August 1992, the squadron and the rest of Carrier Air Wing Seven switched aircraft carriers to USS George Washington, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. VF-143 deployed for USS George Washington's maiden cruise and then again for the carrier’s first Mediterranean Sea deployment in May 1994 where she took part in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day invasion and Operation Deny Flight. VF-143 returned to NAS Oceana in December 1994. VF-143 was awarded the 1994 Battle E, Safety S, Joseph C. Clifton and Golden Wrench awards.[2]

In January 1996, VF-143 departed on their second deployment in thirteen months, operating in support of Operation Decisive Endeavour and Operation Southern Watch. The squadron provided TARPS, Forward Air Controller, air superiority and air-to-ground missions. VF-143 returned to Oceana in July 1996.[2]

In early 1997, VF-143 transitioned to the Navy's newest carrier, USS John C. Stennis, deploying in 1998. The maiden deployment took them to the Persian Gulf, spending 131 days there in support of Operation Southern Watch. VF-143 played key roles using LANTIRN, night vision goggles and digital TARPS. VF-143 was recognized by COMNAVAIRLANT with the 1998 Battle “E” Safety "S" awards.[2]


Transition from the F-14B to the F/A-18E

VF-143 deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The last deployment with the F-14 was in 2004 aboard USS George Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which time the squadron participated in strikes over Fallujah between April 28-April 29.[5]

In 2005 VF-143 transitioned to the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and was designated Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143).

The first deployment with the F/A-18E commenced in 2006 and ended in the spring of 2007. During the cruise aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, VFA-143 supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and operations off the Somali coast.[6]

On February 21, 2009 VFA-143 and CVW-7 embarked aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for a deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf.[7] On 30 July 2009, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Naval Station Norfolk after almost a six-month deployment.[8]


VFA-143 F/A-18E Super Hornet takes off from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

VFA-143 and the rest of CVW-7 embarked on board USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 2, 2010 for a seven-month deployment in support of 5th and 6th Fleet operations.[9] In June 2012, VFA-143 deployed again on board Dwight D. Eisenhower for a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. That deployment was cut short due to the requirement for entire Carrier Strike Group to surge. Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Naval Station Norfolk just prior Christmas in December 2012. The Air Wing re-embarked on Dwight D. Eisenhower and got underway in February 2013 for a five-month surge deployment, again in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

After a two-year maintenance period, the Pukin' Dogs and the rest of CVW-7 embarked on board USS Harry S. Truman on November 15, 2015 for a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. CVW-7 dropped a record breaking number and tonnage of ordnance on targets in the vicinity of Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul Iraq. As well as support coalition forces in western Syria. VFA-143 dropped 422 precision guided weapons, totaling nearly 400,000 pounds of ordnance. After being extended for a month, VFA-143 returned to NAS Oceana Virginia on July 12, 2016.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Carrier Air Wing 7 Begins OEF Missions Archived February 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR THREE [VFA-143]". US Navy. Retrieved 2006-12-30.
  3. ^ "U.S. Accounted-For from the Vietnam War" (PDF). Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  4. ^ Libyan Wars, 1980-1989, Part 3 - Operation "Manta" By Tom Cooper Archived February 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Holmes, Tony (2005). US Navy F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Osprey Publishing Limited. p. 87.
  6. ^ CVW-7 Sailors Complete an Eight-Month Deployment Archived March 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ - Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Deploys[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Prince, Adam (22 February 2009). "Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Deploys" (PDF). USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Retrieved 2009-02-23.[dead link]
  9. ^ "IKE Strike Group Deploys". United States Navy. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-02.