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HistoryVAW-123 HistoryHistory

Circa 1986

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Carrier Squadrons and Non-Carrier Based Squadrons Involved in 1986 Libyan Operations (24 March–15 April 1986)...Squadrons Mentioned: VP-23, VP-56, VQ-2, VR-22, VR-24, VS-22, VAW-123, and VAW-125...Naval Historical Center ADOBE Download File: http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP28.PDF [27MAY2003]
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Circa 1984

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation July-August 1984 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Page 37, 38 and 40 - Naval Aviation News - July-August 1984..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1980s/1984/ja84.pdf [17OCT2004]

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Circa 1982

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation June 1982 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Page 5 and 46 - Naval Aviation News - June 1982..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1980s/1982/jun82.pdf [15OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation February 1982 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Page 4, 45 and 46 - Naval Aviation News - February 1982..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1980s/1982/feb82.pdf [15OCT2004]

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Circa 1975

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation November 1975 "...CNO Awards - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - November 1975..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1975/nov75.pdf [04OCT2004]

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Circa 1973

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation May 1973 "...Fleets Announce Battle E Winners - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - May 1973..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1973/may73.pdf [28SEP2004]

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Circa 1972

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation November 1972 "...Aviation Safety Awards Announced - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - November 1972..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1972/nov72.pdf [27SEP2004]

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Circa 1970

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation April 1970 "...Fleet Air 'E' Awards Announced - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - April 1970..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1970/apr70.pdf [17SEP2004]

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Circa 1967

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VAW-123 History..." Contributed by ROGERS, YN Charles A. charleyrogers@yahoo.com [10OCT2002]

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Hundred Twenty Three (VAW-123) was originally a detachment of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Twelve, Detachment 59, (CAEWW-12, Det 59) attached to the USS Forrestal (CVA-59). On April 1, 1967 the Detachment was commissioned a squadron of its own (VAW-123 under the command of CDR Lucio W. Hill) and remained attached to Airwing 12 (CAEWW-12). In June 1967, VAW-123 sailed aboard USS Forrestal for its first ever Westpac Cruise. At 10:52 a.m., July 29, 1967, (Just 4 1/2 days after Forrestal, (along with VAW-123) arrived on Yankee Station) Forrestal was in trouble. Durig the second airstrike of the day, a major fire with the loss of 134 men, many injuries, loss of many aircraft, and extreme damage to the ship from the explosion of ordnance and jet fuel tanks occured. VAW-123 had an E2A Hawkeye aircraft on the cat, at full power and just seconds away from launch when the fire aboard Forrestal started. Power was shut down and the aircraft was never launched. AT1 David Carpenter was part of the crew on this aircraft. Slightly more than 2 years after this event, AT1 Carpenter had another close call which will be outlined a little later in this article. VAW-123 was more than just fortunate on July 29, 1967. She never lost any personnel, did not have any personnel injured, and and did not have any damage to any of its aircraft. Forrestal returned to Norfolk in September 1967 and immediately went into drydock for major repairs. VAW-123 departed Forrestal and was housed at NAS Norfolk.

In early 1968 Forrestal was ready to sail again and VAW-123 moved aboard and was attached to CVW-17. ORI and Shake Down cruises were made to the Carribbean Sea. In July 1968 VAW-123 Set sail again aboard Forrestal for its first Mediterranean Sea Cruise (1968-69). Most of VAW-123's crew on this cruise was still mad up of plank owners.

In October 1968, a routine night launch of an E2A from VAW-123 lead the way as usual for all launches aboard Forrestal. The crew was made up of LCDR Paul Martin Wright, (Operations Officer), LCDR James Leo Delaney, (Maintenance Officer), LTJG Howard Booth Rutledge, Personnel Officer, LTJG Frank J. Frederick, (Asst. Maintenance Officer, and AT1 David E. Carpenter, (Avionics Dept.) The flight was routing. Aircraft recovered as usual with the VAW-123 E-2A being the last plane to recover. The aircraft boltered, went off the angle deck and into the water, nose first. The plane flipped over on its back and the dome broke off. Within minutes, the aircraft sank. The dome floated and was recovered. Immediately, helicopters were right on the area for search and rescue attempts. AT1 David E. Carpenter and LTJG Frank J. Frederick both were rescued basically unharmed, physically. Lost ar sea were LCDR Wright, LCDR Delaney, and LTJG Rutledge. I remember this event being a real strain on the Ready Room. I just could not believe that i had just witnessed the loss of a squadron aircraft and 3 of its crew. (My whole time in the Navy was with VAW-123 and as Operations Yeoman). The Officers were visibly shaken from this event. It was a major relief to learn that Crew members Carpenter and Frederick had been rescued and were alive. Hope was there that the other three would be rescued. As the night wore on, it became apparent that Crew members Wright, Delaney, and Rutledge were lost and probably never made it out of the plane. AT1 David E Carpenter had just escaped his second major brush with death with VAW-123 in just a little over 2 years.

In 1969 Forrestal returned to Pier 12 at Norfolk. VAW-123 departed Forrestal forever.

In 1970, VAW-123 joined CVW-3 and set sail aboard USS Saratoga (CVA-60) for another Med Cruise. This cruise was basically routine.

In 1971, VAW-123 again deployed aboard USS Saratoga for yet another Med Cruise which was again routine.

In 1972, VAW-123 departed NORVA for a second WESTPAC cruise, this time aboard Saratoga. VAW-123 made many more cruises aboard Saratoga. She departed Saratoga in the early 1980's and sailed several years aboard USS America. When USS America was decommissioned in 1997, VAW-123 went aboard USS John F. Kennedy. Since that time, VAW-123 has sailed aboard USS George Washington, USS Harry Truman, USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Since her commissioning in 1967, VAW-123 has lead the way, being the first to receive E-2A, E-2B, and E-2C aircraft from Grumman aircraft.

Following is the names of the VAW-123 Commanding Officers that I served under:

  • 1967-68 CDR Lucio W. Hill (Deceased)
  • 1968-69 CDR Kenneth G. Smith
  • 1969-70 CDR Charles J. Berthe, Jr.
  • 1970-71 CDR William R. Eels
  • 1971-72 CDR Glen G. Debroader
  • * 1972-73 CDR Jack Larison

    *Was XO when I left the squadron, but became CO a short time after my departure.

    Some other notable events at VAW-123:

  • Airman Charles M. O'Brian survived being stuck by the props of an E-2A without life crippling injuries.
  • CDR Jack Larison was the first to Fly an E2A non stop Coast to Coast (West to East). The aircraft ran out of fuel on the taxiway at NORVA just prior to making it to SP-1.
  • CDR Charles Berthe did a barrell roll with one of our E-2A aircraft during an airshow while in the Mediterranean. (WOW !!!! What a surprise) Just wonder how he got away with that????!!!!!
  • PR3 Harvey L. Dalton made the original Squadron Flag.
  • I was honored when that flag was presented to me when i departed the squadron. In 1990 or 1991, I felt that the original flag should be with the squadron. I presented it to the CO at that time and asked that it always sail with the squadron everytime it deploys.
  • The original call sign for VAW-123 was "Cyclops" and not "Screwtops." I still have my original squadron patch that has "Cyclops" as part of the patch.

    Circa 1945

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VAW-123 History..." http://www02.clf.navy.mil/vaw123/frame-history.htm [04AUG2002]

    The Screwtops of VAW-123 have achieved a very impressive record throughout its 33-year history. The squadron has more than 65,500 flight hours and over 14,000 carrier arrested landings, without suffering a Class-A Mishap in over 30 years. Recently, the squadron was presented with the Golden Wrench Award for outstanding maintenance-evidence of the genuine team spirit for which the "World Famous" Screwtops have always been known.

    The history of VAW-123 begins in 1945 with the commissioning of VC-12, officially known as Composite Squadron Twelve. VC-12 was redesignated VAW-12, Carrier Airborne Warning Squadron Twelve, in 1956. During its history, the organization of VAW-12 changed internally many times. The last change resulted in the establishment of Carrier Early Warning Wing Atlantic and the commissioning of all E-2A detachments as independent squadrons. As a result of this reorganization, VAW-12 Detachment 59 was commissioned VAW-123 in April 1967, under the command of CDR Hill.

    Initially attached to CVW-17 aboard the USS Forrestal (CV-59), the squadron became an integral part of CVW-3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-60) and remained there throughout the 1970s. In October 1980, the squadron transferred to CVW-11 aboard the USS America (CV-66). Following a 1981 Indian Ocean deployment, VAW-123 transferred to CVW-1 on 12 November 1981. Since that time, the Screwtops have made several extended Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and North Atlantic deployments as an integral part of the CVW-1/CV-66 team, until the decommissioning of the USS America in the Spring of 1997.

    Throughout the years, VAW-123 has consistently been at the forefront of the Airborne Early Warning community. In addition to being recipients of many awards, including eleven Battle "E's" and nine "Safety S's," the eleventh Battle "E" being awarded for CY 1999. Highlights of the command's history include the successful employment of the E-2C in 1972 and the first operational deployment of the E-2C ARPS (Advanced Radar Processing System) in 1978. In March 1996, the Screwtops became the first E-2 squadron on the East Coast to transition to the E-2C Group II aircraft, with its significantly upgraded avionics and engines. In November 1998, the Screwtops again led the way by becoming the first operational squadron on the East Coast to accept delivery of the Navigation Upgrade E-2C Group II's.

    The Screwtops have successfully met many challenging assignments and maintained a watchful eye on world events, ever ready to support national policy. The Screwtops were key participants in the 1986 Gulf of Sidra operations off the coast of Libya, and were directly involved in the first combat use of the HARM (High speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and Harpoon weapon systems. The Screwtops supported Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and were the only E-2 squadron to operate in both the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf. The Screwtops have also flown in support of Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.

    The Screwtops, along with the rest of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1), attached to the USS George Washington (CVN-73) for one deployment cycle, returning home on 2 April 1998.

    On 18 May 1998, Carrier Air Wing One transferred off the USS George Washington, bringing the Screwtops to their new home aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). During July and August 1998, VAW-123 detached to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, in support of the United States' ongoing efforts to stem the flow of narcotics through the Caribbean.

    In November and December 1998, the Screwtops detached to the newly commissioned USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in support of her shakedown cruise and Orange Air operations against the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group.

    The Screwtops deployed with the USS John F. Kennedy in September of 1999 and recently returned from a 6-month cruise to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.

    Currently the Screwtops are forward deployed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    "VAW-123 Summary Page"