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HistoryVAW-111 HistoryHistory

Circa 1976

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation December 1976 "...CNO Safety Awards - Page 5 - Naval Aviation News - December 1976..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1976/dec76.pdf [07OCT2004]

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Circa 1975

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation February 1975 "...Squadron Insignia - Naval Aviation News - February 1975..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1975/feb75.pdf [02OCT2004]

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Circa 1974

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation November 1974 "...Awards - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - November 1974..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1974/nov74.pdf [01OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VAW-111 Det 6 was transferred in March 1974 to RVAW-110 and became RVAW-110 Det 6..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]


Circa 1969

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation August 1969 "...Squadron Insignia - Naval Aviation News - August 1969..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1969/aug69.pdf [17SEP2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...24 July 1969 - "Marine One" with President Richard M. Nixon arrived on board to observe Apollo recovery mission. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldin and Michael Collins splashed down and recovered by HS-4 helos. Re-entry vehicle tracking accomplished by VAW-111 and HORNET CIC..." http://www.its.caltech.edu/~drmiles/time_line.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) with CVW-21 (2 Aug 1969 to 15 Apr 1970) - Det 14 E-1B..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) with CVW-19 (14 Apr 1969 to 17 Nov 1969) - Det 14 E-1B..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS KEARSARGE (CVS-33) with CVSG-53 (29 Mar 1969 to 4 Sep 1969) - Det 14 E-1B..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31) with CVW-5 (18 Mar 1969 to 29 Oct 1969) - Det 14 E-1B..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) with CVW-16 (1 Feb 1969 to 18 Sep 1969) - Det 14 E-1B..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...The Mighty O began her 11th cruise April 16, 1969. On board was Carrier Air Wing 19 with VF-191 and VF-194 in F-8J Crusaders, VA-23 and VA-195 in A-4E Skyhawks, VA-192 in A-4F Skyhawks, VAW-111 in E-18 Tracers, VAQ-130 in EKA-3B Skywarriors and VFP-63 in RF-8G photo Crusaders. In Nov. the ship returned after 7 months..." http://www.ussoriskany.com/bio02.asp [22JAN2004]


Circa 1967

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...On 20 April 1967 Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 111 (VAW-111) was established and VAW-11 detachments became part of VAW-111. VAW-11 Det Q became VAW-111 Det 20..." http://vietnamresearch.com/history/usn.html [22JAN2004]


Circa 1964

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...E-2A - The first flight of the first prototype of the E-2A (serial number 148147) took place on April 19, 1960. After successful tests with further prototypes, the serial production of the E-2A started with orders for 59 planes. The first of the ordered E-2s flew in autumn of 1962. In 1964, the first E-2As were delivered to the Navy. They deployed with VAW-111 aboard USS RANGER (CV 61) and USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63)...." http://navysite.de/planes/e2c.htm [22JAN2004]


Circa 1956

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VAW-11 History by Moe Wadle moewadle@yahoo.com..." [16FEB2003]

INTRODUCTION

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Maurice "Moe" Wadle (wad-lee), born 1942, US Navy 1960-67, VAW-11 1964-66. I have made an attempt to compile a history of VAW-11. My primary source of information has been various internet sites. Secondarily I have drawn a tiny bit on my own experiences in the squadron. Further, I have used the excellent source book, Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club: U.S. Carrier Operations Off Vietnam by Rene J. Francillon, to a limited extent. I wish to offer the disclaimer that because I could not find much in the way of detailed history of early days of VAW-11. I have extrapolated information I found on the history of the Atlantic Coast counterpart squadron, VAW-12, I believe it is logical to do this. This is because it appears that, since the two squadrons were respective East and West Coast counterparts, the Navy instituted almost identical organizational changes and terminology to each at the same time. My point in this disclaimer is to show where I got some information and to admit that I am making some assumptions. I will add that if and when I am able to develop more detailed information on the history of VAW-11 I will send it to the VPNavy Site webmaster for appropriate updating to this sketchy narrative.

MISSION

Perhaps the best way to explain the mission of the VAW squadrons is to quote from a history of VAW-126 which states, ".the squadron's primary mission is long range airborne early warning in defense of the Carrier Battle Group. In addition, the squadron plays a vital role in such diverse operations as fighter intercept and air strike control, ocean surveillance, and search and rescue coordination."

HISTORY

In a history of the present VAW-121 it says that, "Carrier Airborne Early Squadron 121 (VAW-121) traces its origin to Project Cadillac, a program initiated in 1942 to develop airborne radar relay platforms. By June 1945, the first group of modified Carrier Airborne Early Warning (AEW) TBM-3 Avengers were conducting trials with the USS Ranger (CV-61). (Note by Moe Wadle: The reference to CV-61 is an error. This would have to be the earlier carrier, USS Ranger (CV-4)). Unfortunately, the war ended before these first AEW units could see action. Following WWII, Fleet Aviation Electronics Training Units (FAETUs) were established on both coasts and continued to train pilots, operators, and maintenance personnel on AEW equipment. (Note by Moe Wadle: I attended "C" schools at FAETUPAC at NAS North Island, San Diego, California in late 1962 and early 1963. At that time the schools encompassed more than AEW equipment. My specialty was Avionics Communications/Navigation equipment.) In 1948 VAW-1 on the West Coast and VAW-2 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia on the East Coast, were formed to replace the FAETUs in 1948. Within a year, VAW-2 was redesignated VC-12 and relocated to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, where the TBM-3W was replaced with the AD-3W Skyraider. During the Korean War, VC-12 detachments deployed in carriers for combat operations.

VC-12 operated an improved version of the Skyraider, the AD-5W, until 1960 when the new WF Tracer 'Willy Fudd', later redesignated as the E-1B, was acquired. VC-12 was redesignated VAW-12 in 1960 and in 1962 moved.... On April 1, 1967 Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing 12, including VAW-121 (previously VAW-12, Detachment 1) was established."

Noting what it says in the previous paragraph about VC-12 becoming VAW-12 in 1960 it should be noted that in an official history of VAW-123 it is stated that VC-12 was redesignated VAW-12 in 1956. This latter statement certainly seems more credible considering information below which gives an exact date in 1956 for the birth of VAW-11 on the opposite coast.

In a history of the present VAW-120 it is stated that, "The history of VAW-120 goes back to July 6, 1948 when Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron Two (VAW-2) was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. Shortly after being formed the squadron moved to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and was redesignated Composite Squadron Twelve (VC-12). With the new name came a new aircraft, the 'Guppy' version of the AD Skyraider. In 1961, the WF-2 Tracer, more affectionately known as the E-1B 'Willie Fudd' arrived to begin its long tour of AEW service."

On one website concerning the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, detailed information is given regarding deployments of the carrier and air wing. It is stated that USS Yorktown deployed to WesPac from 8-3-53 to 3-3-54. Aboard was VC-11, Detachment A using AD-4W planes. Moreover, it is stated that USS Yorktown deployed to WesPac again from 3-19-56 to 9-13-56 with VC-11, Detachment K aboard. It points out that this squadron is referred to as "Early Eleven." It states further that VC-11 was, "Redesignated VAW-11 on 7-11-56." AD-5W planes were used on this deployment. It also states that later the squadron used EA-1E planes.

Another internet source states that VAW-11 was created from VC-11 and that the squadron flew "Spads," the AD-4W and AD-5W, and that after the Spads came the E-1B. (Note by Moe Wadle: Spads are an unofficial nickname for the Douglas Skyraider.)

In a 1962 history of VW-1 (Airborne Early Warning Squadron One) which was written for the 10th anniversary of that squadron it states that, "VC-11 (now VAW-11) which was a West Coast outgrowth of VPW-1."

Another internet source states that, "On 4-20-67 VAW-111 was established and VAW-11 detachments became part of VAW-111, VAW-11 Detachment Q became VAW-111 Detachment 20." Further sources indicate that at this time VAW-121 was established on the East Coast and detachments of VAW-12 became detachments of VAW-121 or perhaps wholly separate squadrons immediately.

At the web site, Global Security.org, an undated entry states that, "Commander Carrier Air Wing One Five (COMCAR AIRWING-15), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 15, Fighter Squadron (VF) 51, Fighter Squadron (VF) 111, and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 11, were all disestablished 31 March 1995. Surviving squadrons were directly attached to their type commands or were reassigned to other carrier air wings."

Considering this latter information and considering the apparent dissolution of VAW-11 in 1967 it appears that perhaps the action in 1995 by the Navy regarding VAW-11 only formalized what actually happened in 1967.

So, to summarize: If one goes strictly by the actual name, VAW-11, its grandfather was probably VAW-1 in 1948 and its father was VC-11. It was born on July11, 1956 and apparently went out of practical existence in 1967. It then officially became nonexistent in 1995. This is unclear.

THE PLANES

Other sources on the internet give a lot of information about Carrier Early Warning Aircraft. That information will not be repeated here. However, these are the aircraft that were/are used: Grumman TBM Avenger variant, Grumman AF-2W Guardian, Douglas AD-1W through AD-5W Skyraider, Grumman WF-1(later designated E-1A) Tracer, and Grumman E-2A, E2C Hawkeye.

THE ICONS

The official insignia of VAW-11 is a black silhouette of a fighting rooster dominating the design with a background of concentric, possibly spiraling, circles of red, orange, lighter orange, yellow, then white with a banner at the bottom stating, "VAW-11." I purchased one of these patches at the squadron offices during my time in the squadron. I have reason to believe that this design originated at least as early as sometime in the 1950s. I have no idea who designed this but if I might guess at the symbolism I would say that, of course, the rooster gives us warning at sunrise so the early warning of the rooster is obvious. The fact that this cock is in a combative stance indicates that the early warning mission is directly related to defense of our forces and to potential involvement in war. The colors of the background perhaps represent the sun and its emanating light from the horizon to the zenith; the whole of which is diligently guarded by the planes and personnel of the squadron. Lastly, perhaps the possible spiraling of the concentric circles at least hints at the major piece of equipment on early warning planes, the search radar which is incessantly operating while the plane and crew are on a mission. The nickname of the squadron is Early Eleven. I know of no official squadron motto.

Note that it was common for individual detachments to create their own insignia, reproduced as patches, to represent a specific deployment with a certain air wing and carrier. One of my mementos is a patch which was created for VAW-11, Detachment Delta, 1964-65 deployment on USS Coral Sea.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I reported to VAW-11 at NAS North Island, San Diego, California in March 1964. The squadron had, I believe, about 1000 personnel so the commanding officer was a full captain. Each time an aircraft carrier home-ported on the West Coast deployed for a cruise a detachment of VAW-11, usually four planes and about 35 men, would be part of the air wing. In 1964 the squadron had virtually all Tracers but at that time the Hawkeyes were starting to be delivered. I was part of Detachment Delta which was attached to Carrier Air Wing 15. The Air Wing left for WesPac on the USS Coral Sea from Alameda, California on December 7, 1964. In February 1965 air strikes against North Vietnam began with USS Coral Sea and CVW-15 engaged. Due to the war our deployment was extended. Instead of getting back in June, as originally scheduled, we arrived in Alameda on November 1, 1965.

THE PRESENT

Presently in 2003 there are approximately 10 VAW squadrons with each being about the size of one of the old detachments. About half the squadrons are based at NAS Point Mugu, California as a Carrier Airborne Early Warning Air Wing, Pacific and the others are based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia as the equivalent Air Wing, Atlantic.

REQUEST

I would like to develop more specific knowledge of any aspect of VAW-11 history. I would be really excited if someone could tell me anything about the origins of the squadron insignia. I would like to hear from anyone who was in VAW-11 or squadrons that fathered VAW-11. Any significant information I gather will be contributed to the VPNavy web site. I can be reached at moewadle@yahoo.com.


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