HS-15 Red Lions Squadron Patch – Sew On
A 4 inches HS-15 Red Lions Squadron Patch.
As an aircraft carrier-based squadron, HS-15 has operated aboard eleven East Coast carriers: USS AMERICA (CV 66), USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62), USS FORRESTAL (CV 59), USS SARATOGA (CV 60), USS ENTERPRISE (CV 65), USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67), and USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). Now as a West Coast squadron, HS-15 is attached to the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70).
Over the years, operations have taken HS-15 to the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Adriatic, Arabian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Norwegian Seas. During deployments, the Red Lions have long played a role in U.S. foreign policy and military actions, including contingency operations with the U.S. Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon during Operation FLUID DRIVE; combat operations during URGENT FURRY in Grenada; extensive North Atlantic antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations with NATO; PROVIDE COMFORT in Iraq; PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT in the former Yugoslavia; DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and SOUTHERN WATCH in the Arabian Gulf; DELIBERATE GUARD and COOPERATIVE ASSEMBLY supporting U.S. involvement in the Balkans conflict; IRAQI FREEDOM in Iraq; ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN in Afghanistan; and UNIFIED RESPONSE in Haiti for humanitarian support. Throughout its entire history, HS-15 has the proud distinction of rescuing or evacuating no fewer than 700 personnel.
HELICOPTER ANTISUBMARINE SQUADRON FIFTEEN was commissioned on 29 October 1971 to fly the SH-3 Sea King at Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. This new squadron was commissioned for the purpose of testing and then fulfilling a new naval concept: SEA CONTROL. HS-15’s first years were spent assisting the Interim Sea Control Ship evaluations onboard the USS GUAM (LPH-9). On 21 January 1972, only 80 days after its commissioning and one month after receiving its full complement of SH-3G aircraft, HS-15 deployed for the first time.
The first major event in HS-15’s illustrious history occurred on 23 June 1972. Hurricane Agnes had severely flooded the Wilkes-Barres/Scranton area in northern Pennsylvania. HS-15 sent five of its aircraft for disaster relief and evacuated or rescued 427 people. Without any rest for the weary, HS-15 was deployed two days later to continue its Sea Control Concept evaluation. This intrepid squadron transitioned to the new SH-3H helicopter in August 1972, eventually joining Helicopter Sea Control Group ONE on 29 September 1972. The Sea Combat Control mission gave the squadron the opportunity to fly over the polar icecaps and relax during their first port call to Lisbon, Portugal on 20 June 1973. In November of that same year, HS-15 moved from Lakehurst, New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida. The final Sea Combat Control Evaluation was held on 18 April 1974. By finally finishing the first mission assigned, HS-15 was allowed to shift from the Sea Control environment to the CV environment and operate as a conventional HS squadron.
During a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea in 1976 onboard the USS AMERICA, HS-15 provided actual evacuations in Lebanon during operation FLUID DRIVE. During an exercise in the Med, HS-15 continuously tracked a submarine for over an 8 hour period. Following the completion of this training exercise, the submarine transmitted: “Tracked by big dippers all morning. Trying to break helicopter contact proved to be Mission Impossible.” The Red Lions further showed their anti-submarine prowess by tracking and forcing a Soviet sub to surface.
Six years later, during another deployment the Red Lions were tasked to shuttle U.S. Special Envoy Philip Habib to and from Beirut as he negotiated a settlement of the Israeli-PLO conflict. This support allowed Mr. Habib to successfully negotiate a peace treaty that allowed the PLO to evacuate from the besieged city of Beirut. In 1982, for his efforts he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest official honor given to a US citizen by the government.
The high tempo pace continued for HS-15 when they deployed in October of 1983. This deployment was originally scheduled for the Indian Ocean, but events in Grenada forced a divert to the South Caribbean. Throughout the hostilities in Grenada, the Red Lions provided combat SAR service as well as small boat interdiction patrols while operating a forward detachment from the USS MOOSBRUGGER. During this detachment HS-15 rescued 11 wounded personnel from a downed Army helicopter. Four days later, the Red Lions rescued a civilian in the combat zone during a small boat interdiction flight.
The Red Lions were on deployment to the Med aboard the USS FORRESTAL, when the Pan Am hijacking occurred on 5 September 1986. Since the FORRESTAL was in port Naples at the time, an emergency recall was ordered. However, the ship left port missing nearly half of its crew and the Red Lions continuously conducted logistic runs to bring the necessary personnel back aboard.
The squadron’s 1988 deployment took the Red Lions from the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal to the North Arabian Sea. Their presence was to ensure the unobstructed passage of ocean commerce through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. Among the high points of the deployment was the opportunity to meet the Commander-in-Chief, President George H. W. Bush, prior to his “Summit on the Sea” with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.