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The squadron's first insignia was approved by CNO on
16 July 1956. Colors for the torch insignia were: a light blue background
outlined in dark blue; the shield was outlined in white stars on a dark
blue field; the outer thunderbolt was international orange and the inner
one was light blue; white mailed fist with black markings; yellow torch
with black markings and a bright red flame; white atomic clouds with blue
borders and markings. The scroll had a white background outlined in dark
blue with dark blue lettering. The squadron's second insignia was approved
by CNO on 3 January 1974. Colors for the insignia were: a dark blue background
and scroll outlined in black and white; white stars and lettering; blue
mailed fist is outlined in white; and an orange lightning bolt. Nickname:
Significant Events of the 60's
14 Nov-8 Dec 1960: Following a request from Guatemala
and Nicaragua, a Navy patrol was established off the coast of these Central
American countries to prevent infiltration by communists from Cuba. The
squadron operated from Shangri-La (CVA 38) until 25 November when it conducted
a complete transfer of aircraft and personnel from Shangri-La to Wasp
(CVA 18) while underway. It remained on station aboard Wasp until 8 December.
2-19 June 1961: Following the assassination of Dominican Republic's dictator,
General Rafael Trujillo, the squadron operated from Shangri-La off the
coast of that country until the domestic situation began to stabilize.
May 1963: The squadron operated from Shanri-La in the Caribbean during
the period of unrest in Haiti and the civil strife with the Dominican
Republic. Aug 1965: Squadron aircraft were used in Operation Pinwheel
on several occasions while Shangri-La was moored at Naples, Italy. The
aircraft were secured to the deck of the carrier and the thrust from their
propellers were used to help prevent the ship, which was undergoing repairs,
from breaking out of her mooring during bad weather and high winds. 4
Apr 1966: VA-176 deployed to Vietnam as a component of CVW-10 embarked
on Intrepid (CVS 11). This was the first all attack air wing formed and
the first to deploy. Two squadrons were flying the A-1 Skyraider and the
A-4 Skyhawk. 15 May 1966: Flying from Dixie Station, the squadron conducted
its first combat sorties, flying strikes against insurgent forces in the
Republic of Vietnam. 9 Oct 1966: While flying a rescue combat air patrol
mission, four squadron aircraft engaged four North Vietnamese Mig's. Lieutenant
(jg) William T. Patton shot down one of Mig-17s during the engagement.
This was the first and only shoot down of an enemy jet aircraft by a propeller
driven plane during the Vietnam Conflict. For the action, Lieutenant (jg)
Patton was awarded the Silver Star. 8 Jun 1967: When Israeli forces attacked
Liberty (AGTR 5), four squadron aircraft were launched from Saratoga (CVA
60) and ordered to proceed to the ship and defend it. Shortly after their
launch the aircraft were recalled when Israel apologized for the attack.
Aug 1969: Squadron A-6A Intruders were used in operation Storm Fury 1969.
The aircraft were used to seed Hurricane Debbie by flying sorties that
penetrated the wall of the hurricane, flew through the eye and exited
the wall again, at which time seeding chemicals were dispensed.
Significant Events of the 70's
25 Sept 1970: VA-176 became the first fleet squadron
to operate the KA-6D tanker aircraft. Oct-Nov 1973: The squadron, embarked
on Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42), operated in the vicinity of Crete in
response to the Arab-Israeli war. Jun 1976: The American Ambassador to
Lebanon was assassinated on 13 June and America (CV 66), with VA-176 embarked,
operated in the vicinity of Lebanon. Squadron aircraft flew support missions
during the evacuation of noncombatants from that country.
Significant Events of the 80's
May 1981: Independence (CV 62), with VA-176 embarked,
following its transit of the Suez Canal, remained on station in the eastern
Mediterranean due to the crisis between Israel and Syria following Israeli
raids against Syrian surface-to-air missile in Lebanon. 25 Oct-1 Nov 1983:
In response to continued political strife and the need to protect and
evacuate Americans from the island country of Granada, VA-176 aircraft
flew combat close air support and reconnaissance sorties in support of
operation Urgent Fury, the landing of U.S. Marines and Army rangers on
the island. 4 Dec 1983: In response to hostile fire against U.S. reconnaissance
aircraft from Syrian positions in Lebanon, VA-176 aircraft participated
in a coordinated strike against Syrian radar, communications, and artillery
positions overlooking the Mult-National Peacekeeping Forces. All five
of the squadron aircraft completed their mission and returned safely the
the carrier. Earnest Will Missions, escort operations for Jun-Jul 1988:
The squadron flew support for reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers during the
Iraq-Iranian War in the Persian Gulf.
Significant Events of the 90's
Jun-Sep 1991: The squadron flew missions in support of
Operation Provide Comfort, supporting the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's
mission to aid the Kurdish refugees in Iraq following the Gulf War. 30
Oct 1992: VA-176 disestablished.
There have been a total of 19 Commanding Officers of The Thunderbolts
as an A-6 squadron. The first was CDR John Davis in Aug ust 1969. The
last was CDR Lee Hawks in July 1991.