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VA-72 Blue Hawks

VA-72 - Blue Hawks

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VFB-18 Bearcats - about 1945
Courtesy of Doug Siegfried

VF-72 - 1952

VA-72 BLUE HAWKS - 1966
Courtesy of John Lamers

Patch
  • Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN (VBF-18) was using the Bearcat patch before 1945. This patch courtesy of Doug Siegfried, is displayed above.
  • On December 5, 1950, Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VF-72) installed the Peregrine Falcon patch.
    The colors were: a red outline with upper background white and the lower background blue; the falcon had a black head with gray feathers and black markings; the beak, eye and feet were yellow with black markings and a red tongue.
  • In 1956, Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VA-72) continued using the Peregrine Falcon patch but added a scroll with "ATAKRON 72." This patch courtesy of Youthly Puresome, is displayed above.
  • The VA-72 WestPac Cruise of 1966-67 spawned the patch provide by John Lamers (above).

Handle
  • Bearcats from 1945 to about 1950
  • Hawks or Skyhawks?, from about 1950 to 1956
  • Blue Hawks, from 1956 to 1991.

Heritage
  • January 25, 1945, Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN (VBF-18) established.
  • November 15, 1946, VBF-18 was redesignated Fighter Squadron EIGHT A (VF-8A).
  • July 28, 1948, VF-8A was redesignated Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VF-72).
  • January 3, 1956, VF-72 was redesignated Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VA-72).
  • Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VA-72) was disestablished on June 30, 1991.

Home Ports
  • Date - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Location:
  • January 25, 1945 - - - - - Naval Air Station Astoria
  • April 22, 1945 - - - - - - Naval Air Station San Diego
  • November 14, 1945- - - - - Naval Air Station Quonset Point
  • September 3, 1957- - - - - Naval Air Station Oceana
  • February 15, 1966- - - - - Naval Air Station Cecil Field

Air Wings
    Date - - - - - - - - - - - - Tail code - - - - - - - Air Wing
  • January 25, 1945 - - - - L/AG† - - - CVG-18/CVAG-7/CVG-7/CVW-7*
  • March 7, 1966 - - - - - - AB - - - - CVW-1
  • August 26, 1968 - - - - - AJ - - - - CVW-8
  • September 22, 1969- - - - AD - - - - RCVW-4‡
  • March 2, 1970 - - - - - - AB - - - - CVW-1
  • October 1, 1986 - - - - - AG - - - - CVW-7
  • September 1988 - - - - - - - - - - - COMLATWING 1§
  • March 1, 1989 - - - - - - AC - - - - CVW-3
  • * CVG-18 was redesignated CVAG-7 on November 15, 1946. On September 1, 1948, CVAG-7 was redesignated CVG-7. CVG-7 was redesignated CVW-7 when Carrier Air Group (CVG) designations were redesignated Carrier Air Wings (CVW) on December 20, 1963.
  • The tail code was changed from L to AG in 1957. The effective date for this change was most likely the beginning of FY 58 (July 1, 1957).
  • The squadron was assigned to RCVW-4 during its transition to the A-7B.
  • The squadron detached from CVW-7 and came under the operational and administrative control of Commander Light Attack Wing 1

Deployments
    Departure & Return - - - - - - - - Air Wing - Carrier - Aircraft - - Area of Operations:
  • 09-16-46 to 12-12-46 - CVG-18 - CV 32 - F8F-1- - Carib/South America
  • 04-03-47 to 06-09-47 - CVAG-7 - CV 32 - F8F-1B - Mediterranean
  • 07-30-47 to 11-19-47 - CVAG-7 - CV 32 - F8F-1B - Mediterranean
  • 01-04-49 to 05-23-49 - CVG-7 - CV 47 -- F8F-1- - Mediterranean
  • 07-10-50 to 11-10-50 - CVG-7 - CVB 41 - F8F-1B - Mediterranean
  • 05-20-52 to 01-08-53 - CVG-7 - CV 31 -- F9F-2 - WestPac/Korea
  • 09-16-53 to 02-21-54 - CVG-7 - CVA 20 - F9F-5 - NorLant/Mediterranean
  • 04-04-55 to 12-10-55 - CVG-7 - CVS 12 - F9F-5 - WestPac
  • 09-02-58 to 03-12-59 - CVG-7 - CVA 15 - A4D-2 - Mediterranean
  • 08-04-60 to 03-03-61 - CVG-7 - CVA 62 - A4D-2 - Mediterranean
  • 08-04-61 to 12-19-61 - CVG-7 - CVA 62 - A4D-2N - Mediterranean
  • 04-19-62 to 08-27-62 - CVG-7 - CVA 62 - A4D-2N - Mediterranean
  • 08-06-63 to 03-04-64 - CVG-7 - CVA 62 - A-4C - Mediterranean
  • 09-08-64 to 11-05-64 - CVW-7 - CVA 62 - A-4E - NorLant/Mediterranean
  • 05-10-65 to 12-13-65 - CVW-7 - CVA 62 - A-4E - WestPac/Vietnam
  • 06-21-66 to 02-21-67 - CVW-1 - CVA 42 - A-4E - WestPac/Vietnam
  • 08-24-67 to 05-19-68 - CVW-1 - CVA 42 - A-4B - Mediterranean
  • 01-07-69 to 07-29-69 - CVW-8 - CVA 38 - A-4B - Mediterranean
  • 09-14-70 to 03-01-71 - CVW-1 - CVA 67 - A-7B - Carib/Mediterranean/NorLant
  • 12-01-71 to 10-06-72 - CVW-1 - CVA 67 - A-7B - Med/NorLant
  • 04-16-73 to 12-01-73 - CVW-1 - CVA 67 - A-7B - Med/NorLant/Mediterranean
  • 06-28-75 to 01-27-76 - CVW-1 - CV 67 -- A-7B - Mediterranean
  • 09-02-76 to 11-09-76 - CVW-1 - CV 67 -- A-7B - NorLant
  • 01-15-77 to 08-01-77 - CVW-1 - CV 67 -- A-7B - Mediterranean
  • 06-29-78 to 02-08-79 - CVW-1 - CV 67 -- A-7E - Mediterranean
  • 08-04-80 to 03-28-81 - CVW-1 - CV 67 -- A-7E - Mediterranean
  • 08-23-82 to 10-30-82 - CVW-1 - CV 66 -- A-7E - NorLant/Mediterranean/Carib
  • 12-08-82 to 06-02-83 - CVW-1 - CV 66 -- A-7E - Mediterranean/IO
  • 04-24-84 to 11-14-84 - CVW-1 - CV 66 -- A-7E - Carib/Mediterranean/IO
  • 08-24-85 to 10-09-85 - CVW-1 - CV 66 -- A-7E - NorLant
  • 03-10-86 to 09-10-86 - CVW-1 - CV 66 -- A-7E - Mediterranean
  • 02-29-88 to 08-29-88 - CVW-7 - CVN 69 - A-7E - Mediterranean
  • 08-15-90 to 03-28-91 - CVW-3 - CV 67 -- A-7E - Mediterranean/Red Sea.


Aircraft
Commanding Officers
  • Date Assumed Command - - - - - - - Commanding Officer
  • January 25, 1945 - - - - LT Mohl C. Norton, Jr. (Acting)
  • March 5, 1945- - - - - - LCDR Jeremy Morrison
  • September 14, 1945 - - - CDR Sam E. Clark
  • June 11, 1947- - - - - - LCDR Frank Malinasky
  • July 6, 1948 - - - - - - LCDR Burton F. Haker
  • August 19, 1948- - - - - LT G. F. Colleran (acting)
  • October 20, 1948 - - - - LCDR Frank Malinasky
  • June 20, 1949- - - - - - LCDR Carlton H. Clark
  • July 4, 1950 - - - - - - LCDR John B. Jorgensen
  • July 9, 1951 - - - - - - LCDR Archibald W. Curtis
  • January 1953 - - - - - - CDR Gordon J. Brown
  • November 12, 1954- - - - LCDR Carlton F. Naumann
  • February 8, 1956 - - - - LCDR Robert F. Hunt
  • July 23, 1957- - - - - - CDR C. K. Ruiz
  • February 4, 1959 - - - - CDR John K. Beling
  • March 4, 1960- - - - - - CDR C. A. Hill, Jr.
  • May 12, 1961 - - - - - - CDR W. W. Kendall Miller, Jr.
  • April 16, 1962 - - - - - CDR Frederick S. Gore
  • March 25, 1963 - - - - - CDR T. L. Neilson
  • February 17, 1964- - - - CDR Grover C. Walker *.
  • February 10, 1965- - - - CDR Joe D. Adkins *.
  • February 11, 1966- - - - CDR Harrison B. Southworth *.
  • March 15, 1967 - - - - - CDR E. J. Hofstra *.
  • March 15, 1968 - - - - - CDR R. A. Phillips
  • April 10, 1969 - - - - - CDR S. E. Latimer, Jr.
  • October 17, 1969 - - - - CDR D. B. Young, Jr.
  • September 9, 1970- - - - CDR R. K. Shea
  • July 2, 1971 - - - - - - CDR M. G. Basford
  • July 8, 1972 - - - - - - CDR J. F. Donahue
  • July 14, 1973- - - - - - CDR Robert J. Kelly
  • September 12, 1974 - - - CDR Edward D. Estes
  • October 16, 1975 - - - - CDR Robert F. Brennock
  • December 16, 1976- - - - CDR Patrick M. Commons
  • April 6, 1978- - - - - - CDR Hugh A. Merrill
  • July 1979- - - - - - - - CDR Howard E. Koss
  • October 1980 - - - - - - CDR Carter B. Refo
  • February 16, 1982- - - - CDR Robert L. Kiem
  • June 9, 1983 - - - - - - CDR C. A. Cook
  • November 21, 1984- - - - CDR Arthur F. Richardson
  • May 3, 1986- - - - - - - CDR Gordon G. Stewart
  • October 15, 1987 - - - - CDR James B. Waddell
  • June 15, 1989- - - - - - CDR John R. Sanders
  • * Official United States Navy photographs from Al Carpenter

Events
  • January 25, 1945:
    Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN (VBF-18) established at Naval Air Station Astoria, Oregon.

  • February 7, 1945:
    Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN was assigned the Grumman F6F-3/5 Hellcat.

  • April 22, 1945:
    VFB-18 moved to Naval Air Station San Diego, California.

  • August 10, 1945:
    Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN was assigned the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat.

  • November 14, 1945:
    VFB-18 moved to Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

  • September 16 through December 12, 1946:
    Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN "Bearcats" flying the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat assigned aboard United States Ship Leyte CV 32, participated in the good-will cruise to the Caribbean and South America for the inauguration of Chile's President.

  • November 15, 1946:
    Bomber Fighter Squadron EIGHTEEN was redesignated Fighter Squadron EIGHT A (VF-8A).

  • April 3 through June 9, 1947:
    Fighter Squadron EIGHT A flying the Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat assigned aboard United States Ship Leyte CV 32, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • July 30 through November 19, 1947:
    VF-8A "Bearcats" flying the Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat assigned aboard United States Ship Leyte CV 32, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • July 28, 1948:
    Fighter Squadron EIGHT A (VF-8A) was redesignated Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VF-72).

  • August 19, 1948:
    Squadron commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander B. F. Haker, lost at sea.

  • January 4 through May 23, 1949:
    Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO flying the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat assigned aboard United States Ship Philippine Sea CV 47, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • July 10 through November 10, 1950:
    VF-72 "Bearcats" flying the Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat assigned aboard United States Ship Midway CVB 41, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • March 16, 1951:
    Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Hawks" was assigned the Grumman F9F-2 Panther.

  • May 20, 1952 through January 8, 1953:
    VF-72 "Hawks" flying the Grumman F9F-2 Panther and assigned aboard United States Ship Bon Homme Richard CV 31, participated on a combat cruise to WestPac/Korea.

  • September 16, 1953 through February 21, 1954:
    Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO flying the Grumman F9F-5 Panther assigned aboard United States Ship Bennington CVA 20, participated on a cruise to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean operating areas.

  • January 3, 1956:
    Fighter Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VF-72) "Hawks" was redesignated Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VA-72) "Hawks".

  • September 1956:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO was assigned the Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk.

  • June 20, 1957
    Lt. John O. Hughes III flying A4D-1 BuNo 139952, perished in a bay crash near NAS Quonset Point, RI, RI.
    Newport, RI The News article

  • September 3, 1957:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO moved to Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.

  • February 6, 1958
    LT(jg) Jack L. Moss safely ejected when a flock of birds swept into the intake of his A4D-1 BuNo 139951 while he was making a low-altitude run and the cockpit filled with smoke. He managed to climb the plane to 2,000 feet and bailed out safely near Norfolk.
    Hayward, CA The Daily Review article

  • September 2, 1958 through March 12, 1959:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO flying the Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Randolph CVA 15, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • September 25, 1958:
    Lt. Thomas A. Banta was killed when the bridle detached from one hook and dragged A4D-2 BuNo 142702 sideways down track and upside down into sea.
    Chester, PA Chester (PA.) Times Monday, September 29, 1958

  • October 30, 1958:
    Lt(jg). John Parrott ejected safely from A4D-2 BuNo 142720 after he collided with a VA-75 AD-6 Skyraider which was circling the ship under an overcast. The AD pilot, Lt. Wallace D. Arbuckle was killed.

  • November 15, 1958:
    LCdr. George Gardner (VA-72 Ops Officer) perished in ramp strike in A4D-2 BuNo 142692. Tail broke off (including O2 bottle). A/c flipped over, caught fire and came to rest on deck. Fire had to be put out before a/c could be lifted, clamshell canopy opened and pilot removed. Pilot suffocated due to lack of oxygen.

  • April 1959 to July 1 1959:
    VA-72 flying their A4D-2 Skyhawks participated in USS Independence (CVA-62) shake down cruise.

  • June 29, 1959:
    LCDR J. Tuckey is believed to have been lost in the loss of A4D-2 BuNo 142706.

  • August 12, 1959:
    Lt(jg). L.E. Eilbacker ejected safely when his A4D-2 142721 of VA-72 crashed into the sea about a half mile astern of the USS Independence (Lat. 36-00.8N, Long. 74-39.5) on an approach to a landing on 12 August 1959 and was rescued by helicopter (51) which was always airborne.
    Cdr. G. E. Peddicord, USS Independence Air Officer (1958-1960).
    USS Independence deck log 12 August 1959.
    USS Independence Deck log, Wednesday, August 12, 1959
    USS Independence Deck log, Wednesday, August 12, 1959

  • May 4, 1960:
    During Carquals an Lt. Feltham ejected safely when his A4D-2 BuNo 144880 spun in at about 1500 ft. attitude after a night launch from the USS Independence, assumed to have been caused by pilot disorientation. He was rescued by plane-guarding destroyer.
    Cdr. G. E. Peddicord, USS Independence Air Officer (1958-1960)
    USS Independence Deck log , Wednesday, May 4, 1960
    USS Independence Deck log , Wednesday, May 4, 1960

  • August 4, 1960 through March 3, 1961:
    VA-72 "Hawks" flying the Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • October 14, 1960:
    John Tate ejected from A4D-2 BuNo 142805 and was rescued when his bomb skipped and exploded under his plane, setting it on fire, during a Path Follower Mission fire power demonstration with an A3D-2 Skywarrior and another A4D-2 Skyhawk. After the explosion the ship repeatedly called "get out you are on fire" and hearing this the crew of the VAH-11 Skywarrior (BuNo 144629,) seeing their starboard engine was on fire, bailed out and also were rescued.

  • December 14, 1960:
    Med Sea Lt(jg). Robert Barnick ejected safely when his A4D-2 BuNo 142698 flamed out just astern of the carrier after the fuel gauge immediately dropped to 600 lbs. on a night launch.
    The plane guard destroyer had their lights on him before he hit the water and after one riser didn't release and the Destroyer prop wash pulled him and the chute under a Lt(jg). from the Destroyer dove in and rescued Bob who was revived on deck and then transferred back to the Indy.
    From John Tate.

  • August 4 through December 19, 1961:
    VA-72 "Hawks" flying the Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • August 16, 1961:
    LCdr. James Alfred Mulligan ejected safely when his A4D-2N BuNo 148461 rolled inverted and he lost his instruments at night on final approach to the Indy.
    From John Tate.

  • April 19 through August 27, 1962:
    VA-72 "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • October 1962:
    During the Bay of Pigs VA-72 operated from United States Ship Independence CVA 62, south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

  • May 10 through 16, 1963:
    The "Blue Hawks" provided courier service during a Mercury Project space flight of the Faith 7 capsule from United States Ship Wasp CVS 18.

  • August 6, 1963 through March 4, 1964:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4C Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • August 19, 1963:
    While on a training flight from USS Independence, LT(jg) Herbert “Hot Dog” Recktenwald ejected from A-4C 148579 AG-3... The aircraft crashed into a house in the village of Plouharnel, France.
    LT(jg) Duane “King Tut” Tuttle ejected from A-4C 149512 AG-3.. and parachuted to the French coast near the Gavres Peninsula.
    Eau Claire, WI The Daily Telegram article
    Charleston, WV The Daily Mail article
    Anderson, IN The Anderson Herald article
    Kalispel, MT Kalispel Inter Lake article
    US Armed Forces Pacific Stars and Stripes article

  • September 8 through November 5, 1964:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a cruise to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

  • December 1, 1964:
    Lt(jg). Errol J. Quinn ejected from A-4E BuNo 151141 over Pamlico Sound, NC and was recovered uninjured
    Hamilton, OH Journal article

  • May 10 through December 13, 1965:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Independence CVA 62, participated on a combat cruise to WestPac/Vietnam.

  • September 13, 1965:
    LTJG Joe Russell Mossman, flying Skyhawk BuNo.149999, was struck by small arms fire and was lost in action. He, and others who served aboard and were lost from the U.S.S. Indpendence, are remembered on a plaque that resides aboard the "Indy".

  • September 20, 1965:
    LTJG Jon R. Harris in VA-72 A-4E BuNo.151115 was hit by ground fire, shot down and wounded. He was recovered.

  • October 17, 1965:
    Commander Harrison B. Southworth, VA-72 XO, led the first successful strike against a surface-to-air SA-2 missile installation in North Vietnam.
    U.S. Navy Photographs from Al Carpenter

  • February 15, 1966:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" moved to Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida.

  • June 21, 1966:
    VA-72 deployed to WestPac aboard CVA-42 with CVW-1 flying the A-4E Skyhawk.

  • August 21, 1966:
    LT Allan Russell Carpenter was shot down while flying BuNo.151109. He was recovered and returned to combat flying.

  • November 1, 1966:
    LT Allan Russell Carpenter was shot down while flying BuNo.151138 and was made a POW.

  • December 14, 1966:
    LT Claude David Wilson, flying BuNo.151058, was struck by a SAM and was lost.

  • June 21, 1966 through February 21, 1967:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA 42, participated on a combat cruise to WestPac/Vietnam.

  • March 21, 1967:
    A Douglas A-4 Skyhawk of VA-72 out of NAS Cecil Field, Florida, crashes into a wooded area W of Lake City, Florida after pilot Lt. Cmdr. Robert W. McKay, 34, ejects from the crippled jet. "He suffered no apparent injuries", a Navy spokesman said. "He was picked up by the Highway Patrol and will be returned to Cecil Field on a Navy helicopter.

  • August 24, 1967 through May 19, 1968:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA 42, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • January 7 through July 29, 1969:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO "Blue Hawks" flying the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk and assigned aboard United States Ship Shangri La CVA 38, participated on a cruise to the Mediterranean.

  • January 1970:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO was assigned the Vought A-7B Corsair II.

  • October 1973:
    After completing a normal Med cruise and while returning to CONUS the United States Ship Kennedy and her air wing, were redeployed into the Mediterranean, south of Crete to maintain the peace.

  • September 17 through 19, 1985:
    VA-72, along with other units of CVW-1 on United States Ship America CV 66, were the first to conduct flight operations from a carrier operating inside a fjord near Vestfjord, Norway.

  • March 22 through 27, 1986:
    During Freedom of Navigation Exercises in the Gulf of Sidra and the resulting combat action with Libyan forces, VA-72 flew patrols to protect the task force from attack by surface ships or sub-marines and also provided tanker missions for fighters flying combat air patrols.

  • April 14, 1986:
    The United States initiated Operation Eldorado Canyon, air strikes against targets in Libya. VA-72 provided air-to-surface missile support for possible employment against surface-to-air missile radar sites.

  • September through October 1990 and December 1990 through January 1991:
    The squadron participated in Operation Desert Shield, the build up of American and Allied forces to counter a threatened invasion of Saudi Arabia by Iraq and as part of an economic blockade of Iraq to force its withdrawal from Kuwait.

  • January 17, 1991:
    The squadron's A-7E Corsair IIs participated in the first combat strike against Iraqi targets in Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm.

  • January 29, 1991:
    Squadron aircraft flew their first combat mission in the Kuwait theater, striking Iraqi troops, tanks and artillery positions.

  • February 27, 1991:
    Squadron aircraft participated in the last naval air combat strike of the war, hitting retreating Iraqi troops east of An Najef, Iraq. During the 43 days of war the squadron flew 362 sorties without the loss of a pilot or aircraft.

  • June 8, 1991:
    The last two squadron aircraft participated in the Desert Storm Victory Parade Fly Over in Washington, D.C.

  • June 30, 1991:
    Attack Squadron SEVENTY TWO (VA-72) disestablished at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida.

Awards


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