Strike Fighter Squadron 15 (VFA-15) was an aviation unit of the United States Navy, based at Naval Air Station Oceana. The squadron was in service from 1 August 1968 to 31 May 2017, although the squadron had adopted the traditions of the first VA-15, which was established on 10 January 1942. The unit's nickname was "Valions" and its call sign was Pride.
|Strike Fighter Squadron 15|
|Founded||January 10, 1942|
|Disbanded||31 May 2017|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Close air support|
|Attack||A-7 Corsair II|
Two distinct squadrons have been called the "Valions". Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation. Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons. The first VA-15 was established on 10 January 1942 and disestablished on 1 June 1969.
On 1 June 1969 after the first VA-15 was disestablished, the men and equipment were merged with Attack Squadron 67 (VA-67), which had been established on 1 August 1968. On 2 June 1969, the combined squadron was redesignated VA-15 and adopted the insignia and traditions of the Valions. In August 1968, the squadron began training under VA-174 in the A-7 Corsair II.
In October–November 1973 while embarked on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, the squadron operated in the vicinity of Crete in response to the Yom Kippur War. In June–July 1976 following the assassination of the American Ambassador to Lebanon, VA-15 embarked on USS America operated in the vicinity of Lebanon in support of the evacuation of non-combatants.
In May 1981 USS Independence transited the Suez Canal and maintained station in the eastern Mediterranean due to the crisis between Israel and Syria following Israeli raids against Syrian surface-to-air missile sites in Lebanon.
On 4 December 1983, in response to hostile fire against U.S. reconnaissance aircraft from Syrian positions in Lebanon, VA-15 aircraft participated in coordinated strikes against Syrian radar, communications and artillery positions overlooking the Multi-National Peacekeeping Forces. One of the squadron’s A-7E Corsair IIs, flown by the Air Wing Commander, Command Edward Andrews, was lost when it was hit by a Syrian surface-to-air missile. Commander Andrews ejected, was rescued and returned to USS Independence.
From December 1985 to June 1986 the squadron was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 12M, 1st Marine Air Wing for a six-month deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. This deployment was designed to test the enhanced interoperability between Marine and Navy squadrons, with emphasis on close air support for Marine ground operations and the sharing of other techniques used by both communities. The squadron participated in Operation "Team Spirit" in Korea.
In June 1986, the squadron began transition training in the F/A-18 Hornet, and on 1 October 1986, VA-15 was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron 15 (VFA-15). The squadron accepted their first F/A-18 Hornet in January 1987.
On 28 December 1990, VFA-15 departed for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. The squadron flew daily strikes into Iraq and occupied Kuwait until the suspension of hostilities on 28 February. During 1992, VFA-15 transitioned to the F/A-18C Hornet. In 1993, VFA-15 deployed again with CVW-8 on board USS Theodore Roosevelt. They operated in the Adriatic Sea participating in Operation Provide Promise (March - April 1993) and Operation Deny Flight (April - May 1993) over Bosnia. They, then, transited with Theodore Roosevelt to the Red Sea to conduct operations in support of Operation Southern Watch. They returned to home port with Theodore Roosevelt in September 1993.
In March 1995, VFA-15 departed for a deployment which would involve two theaters of operation. After crossing the Atlantic in record time aboard Theodore Roosevelt, squadron aircraft were launched in support of Operation Deliberate Force 30 August to 20 September 1995. For the next thirteen weeks, VFA-15 flew over 1,100 combat sorties over Kosovo to bring an end to Serbian ethnic cleansing. The battle group then steamed to the Persian Gulf and supported Operation Southern Watch. Upon their return, the squadron made a homeport change to NAS Oceana due to the closure of NAS Cecil Field.
During their 2001 deployment, the squadron took station in the Persian Gulf, patrolling the skies of the southern Iraqi no-fly zone.
Soon after returning through the Strait of Hormuz in early fall 2001 to begin the voyage home, the September 11 attacks unfolded. For the next four weeks VFA-15 took station in the North Indian Ocean and prepared for combat, with flight operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), including combat air patrols over Pakistan. Missions into Afghanistan began on 7 October, and over the next several weeks the squadron flew four to eight-hour missions deep into Afghanistan.
In September 2005 the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf, returning on 11 March 2006. On 8 September 2008 the squadron deployed again to the Persian Gulf in support of OEF. They returned 18 April 2009.
On 11 May 2011, the squadrons of CVW-8 embarked on USS George H.W. Bush's maiden deployment, scheduled to conduct operations in the US 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. Upon return from deployment, the squadron was awarded the Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Battle "E" Award as the dominant Strike Fighter Squadron on the East Coast.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Strike Fighter Squadron 15 (United States Navy).|
- Thomas, Gerald W. Torpedo Squadron Four: a Cockpit View of World War II. Las Cruces, New Mexico: Rio Grande Historical Collection (New Mexico State University), 1991 (2nd impression, with corrections; first published July 1990).
- [Thomas, Gerald W. Torpedo Squadron Four: a Cockpit View of World War II. Doc45 Publications, 2011 (Revised Edition)]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Grossnick, Roy A. (1995). "VA-15" (pdf). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons. Naval Historical Center. 1. Washington, DC: Department of the Navy. p. 317.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- This story was written by Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs. "George H.W. Bush Strike Group to Deploy". Navy.mil. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- Navy to disband a carrier air wing in fiscal 2017 by Meghann Myers, Navy Times, 9 February 2016, retrieved 16 June 2016.
- VFA-15 facebook site, posting from 14 March 2017.
- "Torpedo Squadron Four – A Cockpit View of World War II". Doc45.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.