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Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115), also known as the "Eagles", are a United States Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Their tail code is NK.


[edit] World War II

On October 10, 1942, Torpedo Squadron Eleven (VT 11) was commissioned by the Navy Department. Pilots and crews found themselves "strapping in" the "new" Grumman designed TBM Avenger, a carrier based torpedo bomber known in the fleet as the "Turkey."

The squadron's first combat deployment was landbased at Guadalcanal during April-May 1943 as part of Carrier Air Group Eleven (CVG-11). In June 1943, VT-11 pilots conducted the first daylight raids on Bougainville and the Solomon Islands from the USS Hornet. In October 1944, the squadron participated in the first strikes against Okinawa and two weeks later converged on Leyte Gulf to protect the landing and supply ships engaged in the liberation of the Philippines. Seven Navy Crosses were awarded to VT 11 aircrews during this campaign.

After the war, NAS San Diego became VT-11's new homeport, and the squadron was redesignated as Attack Squadron Twelve Able (VA-12A) in November 1946. VA-12A, along with its Carrier Air Group (CVAG-11), underwent extensive training and embarked in USS Valley Forge, the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. In June 1948, VA-12A deployed on a world cruise, which was a first for a Navy Air Group and milestone for the squadron. A symbolic globe later became part of the squadron's official insignia to commemorate the cruise.
The original patch for Torpedo Squadron Eleven designed by Walt Disney
The original patch for Torpedo Squadron Eleven designed by Walt Disney

On July 15, 1948, VA-12A was redesignated Attack Squadron 115 (VA-115). In addition, the squadron transitioned to the Navy's newest, most powerful, and what was to be its last propeller driven fighter-bomber, the Douglas built A-1 Skyraider.

[edit] The Korean War

In July 1950, VA-115 deployed aboard USS Philippine Sea for nine months conducting strikes in Inchon, South Korea in preparation for landings in September 1950. During and after the invasion the squadron flew deep support missions and also encountered MIG-15s. On December 31, 1951, VA-115 deployed again to the Korean theater and flew combat missions against North Korean rail, transportation, communication, industrial and supply targets. VA-115 flew 2,268 combat missions over both Korea deployments. For this outstanding performance, the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. In 1960 the squadron adopted the nickname "Arabs" after passage through the Suez Canal.

[edit] The Vietnam War
VA-115 A-1H on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1966
VA-115 A-1H on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1966

In October 1965, the squadron returned to Southeast Asia with USS Kitty Hawk and Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11). While serving "on the line" for six months in the Gulf of Tonkin, VA-115 flew 2,051 sorties, over 8000 hours and delivered 7 millions pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Vietnam. In September 1966, VA-115 joined Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5), and was assigned to the Seventh Fleet in January 1967. In August 1967, the squadron was in an inactive status. This was a transitional period as the squadron awaited the arrival of the A-6 Intruder. In January 1970, the squadron resumed active status and was reassigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington for transition to the Grumman A-6A Intruder.

As part of CVW-5, on board USS Midway, VA-115 made their first Western Pacific deployment in the Intruder in 1971. In April 1972, the Midway and VA-115 departed NAS Alameda, California for "Yankee Station" off the coast of Vietnam. VA-115 earned a fourth Presidential Unit Citation during this tour. In September 1973, Midway and VA-115 changed homeport to Yokosuka, Japan. Again Midway and VA-115 would serve off the coast of Vietnam and in 1975, participated in Operation Eagle Pull and Operation Frequent Wind, supporting the evacuation of Saigon. In the summer of 1977, VA-115 transitioned to the A-6E. The "Arabs" of VA-115 then became the "Eagles," officially changing the nickname in March 1978.

[edit] The Gulf War & the 1990s
Intruders of VA-115 from USS Midway in the early 1980s
Intruders of VA-115 from USS Midway in the early 1980s

The "Eagles" deployed again to the Middle East in support of re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf. In October 1990, the "Eagles" deployed to the North Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. On January 17, 1991, "Eagle" Intruders launched from the deck of Midway against Iraqi targets to mark the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. In total, the "Eagles" flew 456 combat sorties, 953 hours and delivered 724,000 pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Iraq and occupied Kuwait. The squadron also led the wing with the confirmed destruction of 12 Iraqi naval vessels. In 1992, the squadron deployed aboard USS Independence, USS Midway's relief as the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier.

VA-115 again deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch enforcing United Nations resolutions against Iraq. The "Eagles" were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their superb performance, flying 115 combat missions over Iraq. In 1993, VA-115, with a complete complement of A-6E SWIP aircraft deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and in 1994, received four aircraft with "night vision" capability.

In 1996 supported contingency operations in the vicinity of Taiwan and still another deployment supporting Operation Southern Watch. In October 1996, the "Eagles" began transition to their fifth aircraft, the F/A-18C Hornet and conducted another homeport change returning to NAS Lemoore, California, as well as, redesignation as Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115). The squadron accepted 12 FA-18s in six months and joined CVW-14 on board USS Abraham Lincoln. In June 1998 the "Eagles" deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.

After only two deployments in the legacy Hornet, the squadron was chosen to be the first Navy squadron to transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet. VFA-115 was able to receive its Safe for Flight qualification in less than one hundred days, substantially ahead of timeline. They were also the first fleet squadron to receive the state of the art Advanced Tactical FLIR.

[edit] Global War on Terror
VFA-115 F/A-18E Super Hornet from the USS Abraham Lincoln
VFA-115 F/A-18E Super Hornet from the USS Abraham Lincoln

In July 2002, the Eagles embarked on the first ever Super Hornet combat deployment. They flew 214 combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Southern Watch (OSW) with a 100% combat sortie completion rate. The Eagles dropped 22 JDAM on 14 targets in OSW. The Eagles took part in the opening salvos of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before hostilities ceased on April 9, 2003, the Eagles dropped 380,000 pounds of ordinance and passed three and a half million pounds of fuel in the tanker support role. This outstanding wartime performance earned the Eagles and the Lincoln Battle Group the Navy Unit Commendation (the sixth awarded to VFA-115).

In May 2004, the “Eagles” deployed on board the USS John C. Stennis. In support of the Fleet Response Plan, the Eagles participated in various joint exercises including NORTHERN EDGE, Rim of the Pacific, Joint Air and Sea Exercise and a MIG-29 Passage Exercise. Additionally, VFA-115 authored a comprehensive joint doctrine for Maritime Interdiction. This document was adopted by Commander Pacific Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations as the model for joint employment, and is now the primary training focus for deploying west coast Strike Groups. The Eagle’s professionalism, teamwork and dedication earned the squadron the coveted Commander Naval Air Pacific Battle Efficiency Award for 2004.

In January 2006, the Eagles deployed to the Persian Gulf, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. VFA-115 flew hundreds of combat sorties providing Close Air Support for the Army and Marines, tanking for the carrier-based aircraft, and Maritime Interdiction for the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group. The squadron earned the coveted CVW-14 Strike Fighter Award.

In January 2007, VFA-115 deployed in support of the Fleet Response Plan on board the USS Ronald Reagan. During the three month deployment the squadron participated in exercise FOAL EAGLE. The Eagles returned in April 2007 to resume shore based flight training at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
BlueWolfRanger95 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Heck, yeah! The Eagles was one of the squadrons I worked for while I was in the Navy. Thanks for creating this.
Firevalkyrie Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
One of my favorite birds. Good job!
StormfalconX Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2008   Photographer

Awesome job, dude. :)
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