Unit Details

 VF-55 Fighter Squadron

USN_Units

SIX A (VA-6A) on 15 November 1946.

Redesignated Attack Squadron FIFTY FIVE (VA-55) on 16 August 1948. Disestablished on 12 December 1975.

The first squadron to be designated VA-55. Squadron Insignia and Nickname The squadron’s first insignia was not submitted or approved by CNO. This insignia was a horned black cat, grasping a rat, astride a torpedo. The colors were: a red background with a black cat; the cat’s face, claws and horns were red; the rat had a yellow face and a red body; the torpedo had a yellow nose and tail section with a red center and black markings; and the word Torpcats was black.

 

USN_Units

On 10 July 1946, a new squadron insignia was approved by CNO. The insignia design was the face of a cat grasping a torpedo in its mouth. Colors were: a lemon yellow background; a blue cat’s head with green eyes, gray jowls, black nose and whiskers, and white teeth; the torpedo was red with white highlights and outlined in black. This insignia was used by VT-5, VA-6A and VA- 55 until September 1955. On 27 September 1955 a new insignia was approved. The winged seahorse insignia was outlined by alternating white and dark green square blocks; the upper half of the insignia was turquoise and the lower half dark blue; the waves were highlighted in white; the seahorse was silver with gold wings and highlighted with black markings; the rocket was silver with red tail fins and nose, black markings, and a flame of red and yellow.

Nickname: Torpcats, 1943–1955. Warhorses, 1955–1975.

Chronology of Significant Events

15 Feb 1943: VGS-30 was disestablished and personnel from the squadron were used to form VT-5 and VF-1.

6–24 Jul 1943: The squadron departed Norfolk embarked in Yorktown (CV 10) enroute to Hawaii via the Panama Canal.

31 Aug 1943: Embarked in Yorktown, the squadron participated in a raid on Marcus Island.

5–6 Oct 1943: The squadron participated in a raid on Wake Island.

Nov–Dec 1943: The squadron supported the landings on Makin and Tarawa, in the Gilberts, and flew strikes against Kwajalein in the Marshalls.

Jan–Feb 1944: The squadron provided air support for the invasion of the Marshalls.

16–17 Feb 1944: Squadron aircraft flew strikes against the Japanese stronghold of Truk.

22 Feb 1944: The squadron participated in a raid on the Marianas, striking targets on Saipan.

30 Mar–1 Apr 1944: Squadron aircraft struck ships and facilities at Palau in the Caroline Islands. The strike on 30 March was the first time the squadron’s TBFs were armed with torpedoes in combat.

21–23 Apr 1944: Strikes were flown against targets on Wakde Island and Hollandia in New Guinea. These operations were in support of the landings at Hollandia by General Douglas MacArthur’s forces.

29–30 Apr 1944: The squadron participated in another strike operation against Truk. 30 Apr 1944: The squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Dick Upson, failed to return from a SAR mission to locate a downed pilot.

14 May 1944: Following a ten-month combat tour beginning in August 1943, Air Group 5 was relieved aboard Yorktown by Air Group 1 and returned to CONUS to reform on 25 June 1944.

07 Feb 1945: Embarked in Franklin (CV 13), the squadron departed NAS Alameda for Hawaii, arriving there on 13 February.

 This was the beginning of 100 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I

USN_Units

This TORPCATS insignia was used by VT-5 during World War II but was never officially approved. This squadron insignia was approved for use in the post- World War II period, retaining the cat and torpedo motif.

USN_Units

In the mid-1950s, the squadron adopted the seahorse insignia that became a well-known design. the squadron’s second major combat tour in the Pacific.

19 Mar 1945: VT-5 was preparing to launch its aircraft for an attack against the city of Kobe, Japan, when the Franklin was hit by two enemy bombs from a Japanese aircraft. Fires were ignited on the second and third decks from the first bomb and the second triggered munitions on the carrier. All VT-5’s aircraft on the flight and hangar deck were destroyed by the ensuing explosions and fire. The damage was one of the most extensive experienced by an Essex class carrier during World War II. A total of 724 men were killed and 265 wounded. VT-5’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Edmands, was lost in the action. All surviving VT-5 personnel were transferred from Franklin and returned to CONUS.

3 Jul 1950: Participated in the first combat strikes by carrier aircraft against the North Koreans. The squadron flew its AD-4 Skyraiders on strikes against airfields, supply lines and transportation facilities in and around Pyongyang, North Korea. This was also the first use of the AD Skyraider in combat.

12 Sep 1950: Pre-invasion strikes against targets in and around Inch'ŏn and Sŏul, Korea, began in preparation for the landing at Inch'ŏn.

15 Sep 1950: Strikes were flown to support the landings at Inch'ŏn.

16 May 1951: All VA-55 personnel, except 16 officers and 5 enlisted men, embarked USNS General William Weigel (TAP 119) enroute to Japan for duty with Air Group 19 aboard Princeton (CV 37).

The remainder of the personnel were airlifted to Japan on 17 May.

29 May 1951: VA-55 embarked on Princeton, replaced VA-195 in Air Group 19, and proceeded to Korea for combat operations.

Mar 1954: The squadron was deployed to the Western Pacific aboard Essex (CVA 9) when the carrier was ordered to operate off the coast of Vietnam during the Viet Minh’s assault against the French at Dien Bien Phu.

Jul–Sep 1957: Operated intermittently off the coast of Taiwan due to the build-up of Chinese Communist forces and the threat of a possible invasion of Taiwan or its off-shore islands.

Sep 1958: Operated in the Formosa Straits during the Chinese Communist shelling of Quemoy and Matsu.

30–31 Oct 1962: Participated in cross deck operations on HMS Victorious (R 38) in the South China Sea. Apr 1963: Ticonderoga, with VA-55 embarked, deployed to the South China Sea following several defeats of neutralist forces by the Communists in Laos. After a ceasefire agreement was arranged, the ship resumed normal Seventh Fleet operations on 5 May.

Jul–Sep 1964: Participated in special Yankee Teamoperations involving missions over Laos and South Vietnam.

2 and 4 Aug 1964: The squadron flew air support for Maddox (DD 731) and Turner Joy (DD 951) while the destroyers were on Desoto Patrol missions (intelligence collection missions begun in 1962) off the coast of North Vietnam.

5 Aug 1964: VA-55’s Skyhawks participated in operation Pierce Arrow, retaliatory strikes against the North Vietnamese. Along with other aircraft from CVG-5, they were part of the mission that struck the Vinh oil storage facility. Ninety percent of the complex was destroyed.

Oct–Nov 1964: The squadron continued to operate from Ticonderoga off the coast of South Vietnam and participated in special Yankee Team operations, flying missions over South Vietnam.

3 Jun 1966: The squadron’s commanding officer, Commander M. J. Chewning, while on a mission over North Vietnam, lost the use of his left arm due to a shrapnel hit. He continued his mission, striking a road target, and then returned to the carrier, making a onehanded carrier landing. For his exploits he was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

15 Jun 1966: Lieutenant Commander Theodore F. Kopfman was awarded the Silver Star, in absentia, for his actions on a mission over North Vietnam. During the sortie his aircraft was shot down and he was taken prisoner. He was released by North Vietnam and returned to the United States in 1973.

Apr 1972: The squadron participated in Operation Freedom Train, tactical air sorties against military and logistic targets in the southern part of North Vietnam. It also provided close air support for forces in South Vietnam following a massive invasion by North Vietnam.

May 1972: Participated in the early phase of operation Linebacker I, heavy air strikes against targets in North Vietnam.

Jun 1973: Missions were flown in support of Operation End Sweep, the clearing of mines in the territorial waters of North Vietnam.

Oct 1973: With the outbreak of war between Israel, Egypt and Syria, the Hancock (CVA 19), with VA-55 embarked, was directed to leave Yankee Station and operate in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.

 

DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I 101

Home Port Assignments Location Assignment Date NAS Norfolk (NAAF Pungo) 15 Feb 1943 Hawaii Jul 1943*

NAS Alameda May 1944 NAAS Monterey Aug 1944†

NAAS Santa Rosa Oct 1944†

Hawaii Feb 1945‡

NAS Seattle Apr 1945§

NAS Klamath Falls 08 May 1945 NAS Pasco 02 Sep 1945 NAAS Brown Field, Chula Vista 04 Dec 1945 NAS Barbers Point 25 Mar 1946 NAS San Diego 21 May 1946 NAS Miramar 20 Mar 1952 NAS Lemoore Jan 1962 * Temporary shore assignments at various air stations in Hawaii when not aboard Yorktown (CV 10).

102 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I †

Temporary shore station for the squadron while it conducted training in preparation for its next combat cruise. ‡

Temporary shore assignment in Hawaii when not aboard Franklin (CV 13), no specific air station listed. §

Temporary shore station awaiting reforming of squadron in May 1945.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command

LCDR Richard Upson 15 Feb 1943

LT Andrew C. Lett (acting) 30 Apr 1944

LCDR Allan C. Edmands 18 Jun 1944

LT Charles H. Carr (acting) 08 May 1945

LCDR Tom B. Bash 18 May 1945

LT John D. Cornwell (acting) 31 Aug 1945

LT William L. Dodd (acting) 12 Oct 1945

LCDR Allard G. Russell 21 Oct 1945

LCDR William A. Rawls (acting) 01 Oct 1947

 

 

CDR Charles H. Crabill, Jr. 24 Dec 1947

USN_Units

VT-5 flight crews in front of a squadron TBM-3. The squadron TORPCATS insignias on all the flight jackets, circa summer 1945.

Commanding Officers—

Continued Date Assumed Command

LCDR Norman D. Hodson 14 Jan 1949

LCDR A. L. Maltby, Jr. 17 Jan 1951

LCDR L. W. Chick 03 Oct 1951

LCDR Jack T. Dowler Feb 1953

LCDR R. J. Thompson Oct 1953

CDR Jack T. Dowler Aug 1954

CDR Franklin V. Bernhard Nov 1955

CDR Billy D. Holder 20 Mar 1957

CDR D. H. Stinemates 21 Feb 1958 CDR J. E. McQuary 06 Feb 1959 CDR H. M. Richey 13 Nov 1959

CDR Lloyd F. Cooper 23 Nov 1960

CDR Earl F. Godfrey 23 Feb 1962

CDR E. J. Lawrence 01 May 1963 CDR H. Urban, Jr. 01 May 1964 CDR J. E. Krimmel 28 May 1965

CDR M. J. Chewning 04 Apr 1966

CDR E. E. Holt (acting) 03 Jun 1966 CDR E. E. Holt 09 Aug 1966 CDR Robert E. Kirksey 17 Oct 1967

CDR John F. Wellings 18 Dec 1968

CDR Frederick W. Lawler 27 Sep 1969

CDR Richard A. Hendricks 27 Mar 1970

CDR Maurice D. Fitzgerald 1971

Commanding Officers—Continued Date Assumed Command

CDR George J. Fenzil, Jr. 03 Jun 1972

CDR P. M. Feran 1973

CDR Almer C. Vold 21 Jun 1974

Aircraft Assignment Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received

TBF-1 01 Mar 1943 TBF-1C Oct 1943 TBM-3 Sep 1944 TBM-3E Jun 1945 TBM-3Q Oct 1946 TBM-3J Mar 1947 AD-1 18 Jun 1949 AD-4 03 Oct 1949 AD-6 Jul 1954 AD-7 Dec 1956 FJ-4B Nov 1957 A4D-2 Mar 1959 A4D-2N/A-4C* Jan 1962 A-4E Jul 1963 A-4C 12 Sep 1966 A-4F 29 Dec 1967 *

The A4D-2N designation was changed to A-4C in 1962.

 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I 103

USN_Units

Squadron AD-4Q Skyraiders at NAS San Diego, California, in December 1950 following their return from a Korean combat tour aboard Valley Forge (CV 45) (Courtesy Robert Lawson Collection).

Major Overseas Deployments Date of Date of Air Type of Area of Departure Return Wing Carrier Aircraft Operation 22 Aug 1943 07 Sep 1943 CVG-5 CV 10 TBF-1 Pacific 29 Sep 1943 11 Oct 1943 CVG-5 CV 10 TBF-1 Pacific 10 Nov 1943 09 Dec 1943 CVG-5 CV 10 TBF-1C Pacific 16 Jan 1944 11 May 1944 CVG-5 CV 10 TBF-1C Pacific 03 Mar 1945 19 Mar 1945 CVG-5 CV 13 TBF-3 Pacific 31 Mar 1947 16 Jun 1947 CVG-5 CV 38 TBM-3E/Q/J WestPac

01 May 1950 01 Dec 1950 CVG-5 CV 45 AD-4/4Q WestPac/Korea 16 May 1951 29 Aug 1951 CVG-19 CV 37* AD-4/4Q/4W WestPac/Korea 16 Jun 1952 06 Feb 1953 ATG-2 CVA 9 AD-4/4B WestPac/Korea 01 Dec 1953 12 Jul 1954 ATG-2 CVA 9 AD-4/4B WestPac

01 Apr 1955 23 Nov 1955 ATG-2 CVA 47 AD-6 WestPac 06 Apr 1957 18 Sep 1957 ATG-2 CVA 19 AD-6/7 WestPac 21 Aug 1958 12 Jan 1959 ATG-4 CVA 20 FJ-4B WestPac 06 Mar 1960 11 Oct 1960 CVG-5 CVA 14 A4D-2 WestPac 10 May 1961 15 Jan 1962 CVG-5 CVA 14 A4D-2 WestPac 25 Jul 1962 17 Sep 1962 CVG-5 CVA 64 A4D-2 SoLant/West Coast 03 Jan 1963 15 Jul 1963 CVG-5 CVA 14 A-4C WestPac 14 Apr 1964 15 Dec 1964 CVW-5 CVA 14 A-4E WestPac/Vietnam 10 Dec 1965 25 Aug 1966 CVW-14 CVA 61 A-4E WestPac/Vietnam 29 Apr 1967 04 Dec 1967 CVW-14 CVA 64 A-4C WestPac/Vietnam 18 Jul 1968 03 Mar 1969 CVW-21 CVA 19 A-4F WestPac/Vietnam 02 Aug 1969 15 Apr 1970 CVW-21 CVA 19 A-4F WestPac/Vietnam 22 Oct 1970 03 Jun 1971 CVW-21 CVA 19 A-4F WestPac/Vietnam 07 Jan 1972 03 Oct 1972 CVW-21 CVA 19 A-4F WestPac/Vietnam 08 May 1973 08 Jan 1974 CVW-21 CVA 19 A-4F WestPac/IO 18 Mar 1975 20 Oct 1975 CVW-21 CV 19 A-4F WestPac

* See chronology entry for 16 May 1951. 104 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I

Air Wing Assignments Air Wing Tail Code Assignment Date

CVG-5 S* 15 Feb 1943 CVG-19 (X)† 23 Apr 1951 CVG-19 B 29 May 1951 ATG-2 W/NB‡ 11 Sep 1951

CVG-5 NF 01 Apr 1958 ATG-4 ND 18 Aug 1958 CVG-5/CVW-5§ NF 19 Jan 1959 CVW-14 N.K. 01 Jun 1965 CVW-21 NP 05 Feb 1968

* The tail code S was assigned to the air group and squadron on 12 December 1946.

† The squadron was assigned to Air Group 19 (X-ray), an air group that was organized in CONUS and then sent to Japan to replace the squadrons in Air Group 19 which had been operating in Korea aboard Princeton (CV 37).

‡ ATG-2 was assigned the letter W as its tail code on 24 July 1956. The tail code was changed to NB in 1957. The effective date for this change was most likely the beginning of FY 58 (1 July 1957).

§ CVG-5 became CVW-5 when Carrier Air Group designations were changed to Carrier Air Wings on 20 December 1963.

Unit Awards Received Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award NAVE 01 Jul 1948 30 Jun 1949 01 Jul 1949 30 Jun 1950

1965 1966 AFEM 02 Aug 1964 05 Aug 1964

11 Aug 1964 22 Sep 1964 07 Oct 1964 29 Oct 1964 02 Nov 1964 06 Nov 1964 21 Nov 1964 28 Nov 1964 02 Dec 1968 04 Dec 1968 30 Oct 1969 03 Jan 1970 08 Jan 1970 22 Feb 1970 25 Feb 1970 MUC 21 Aug 1969 31 Mar 1970 20 Nov 1970 07 Mar 1971 NUC 02 Aug 1964 05 Aug 1964 10 Jan 1966 06 Aug 1966 18 May 1967 26 Nov 1967 01 Aug 1968 22 Feb 1969 08 Feb 1972 14 Sep 1972

Unit Awards Received—Continued Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award

RVNGC 30 Mar 1972 15 Jul 1972 VNSM 15 Jan 1966 12 Feb 1966 23 Feb 1966 22 Mar 1966 30 May 1966 30 Jun 1966 08 Jun 1967 11 Jun 1967 18 Jun 1967 25 Jul 1967 01 Aug 1967 03 Sep 1967 25 Sep 1967 15 Oct 1967 24 Oct 1967 12 Nov 1967 23 Aug 1968 04 Sep 1968 13 Sep 1968 15 Oct 1968 23 Oct 1968 28 Nov 1968 20 Dec 1968 15 Jan 1969 29 Jan 1969 10 Feb 1969 31 Aug 1969 24 Sep 1969 03 Oct 1969 27 Oct 1969 24 Nov 1969 17 Dec 1969 18 Jan 1970 11 Feb 1970 09 Mar 1970 26 Mar 1970 19 Nov 1970 08 Dec 1970 29 Dec 1970 15 Jan 1971 23 Jan 1971 31 Jan 1971 09 Mar 1971 10 Apr 1971 17 Apr 1971 04 May 1971 07 Feb 1972 09 Mar 1972 25 Mar 1972 02 May 1972

Unit Awards Received—Continued Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award

11 May 1972 01 Jun 1972 12 Jun 1972 14 Jul 1972 24 Jul 1972 17 Aug 1972 27 Aug 1972 14 Sep 1972 PUC 31 Aug 1943 05 Oct 1943 06 Oct 1943 19 Nov 1943 05 Dec 1943 29 Jan 1944 23 Feb 1944 29 Mar 1944 30 Apr 1944 Campaign Medal 31 Aug 1943 (Asiatic/Pacific) 05 Oct 1943 06 Oct 1943 19 Nov 1943 04 Dec 1943 29 Jan 1944 08 Feb 1944 16 Feb 1944 17 Feb 1944 21 Feb 1944 22 Feb 1944 30 Mar 1944 01 Apr 1944 21 Apr 1944 24 Apr 1944 29 Apr 1944 01 May 1944 17 Mar 1945 19 Mar 1945 KSM 27 Jun 1950 03 Nov 1950 29 May 1951 16 Aug 1951 26 Jul 1952 25 Jan 1953 UNSM 27 Jun 1950 03 Nov 1950 29 May 1951 16 Aug 1951 26 Jul 1952 25 Jan 1953

DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I 105 A squadron A-4F Skyhawk piloted by Lieutenant Duncan, 14 February 1975.