Fly off the USS Enterprise again in this RA-5c model of the RVAH-6 Fleurs. Each model is carefully carved from wood and painted to provide a unique piece of art you’ll be proud to show off. 18 inches
RVAH-6 was a Reconnaissance Attack (Heavy) Squadron of the U.S. Navy. Originally established as Composite Squadron Six (VC-6) on 6 January 1950, it was redesignated as Heavy Attack Squadron Six (VAH-6) on 1 July 1956 and was redesignated as Reconnaissance Attack (Heavy) Squadron Six (RVAH-6) on 23 September 1965. The squadron was disestablished on 20 October 1978.
HISTORY OF RECONNAISSANCE ATTACK SQUADRON SIX
When the world entered into the Nuclear Age at the close
of World War II, the Navy looked toward carrier-based aircraft
to carry these important weapons. The concept was to
couple the mobility and advantages of a floating base with
the offensive threat of nuclear weapons. From this original
concept came the development of Heavy Attack Squadrons with
the capability to conduct high altitude attacks on distant
targets, and return to their mobile bases.
In 1950, Composite Squadron SIX (VC-6) was formed at Moffett
Field, California, and the AJ “Savage” was assigned as the
first Navy aircraft to perform this type of mission. Shortly
after commissioning, the Squadron moved to Patuxent River, Maryland,
and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. It was during
this deployment that VC-6 demonstrated the feasibility of the
Heavy Attack Program.
In June 1952, the Squadron moved to NAS North Island, San
Diego, California, and the next four years saw numerous deployments
to the Western Pacific, during which time new techniques
evolved for handling heavy attack aircraft.
In July 1956, the squadron was redesignated as Heavy Attack
Squadron SIX (VAH-6). Still flying the “Savage,” a permanent
rotating detachment was maintained at NAS Atsugi, Japan,
primarily to support carrier based AJ’s until November 1957.
In 1958, VAH-6 received its first A-3B “Skywarrior” and commenced
a year of intensive training at NAS Whidbey Island,
Washington. The “Fleurs,” as part of Carrier Air Wing Group
FOURTEEN on board the USS RANGER (CVA-61) were the first to
deploy as a single unit with the twin-jet bomber in the
Pacific Fleet. During this pioneering period with the A-3B’s,
VAH-6 won five consecutive Bomber Streams sponsored by Commander
Fleet Air, Whidbey and played a vital role in the
development of Buddy Bombing tactics.
From 1960 until May 1964, VAH-6 made three deployments
aboard the USS RANGER as part of Carrier Air Group NINE, winning
the COMNAVAIRPAC “E” for 1961 and two Bomber Streams.
In May 1964, the Squadron deployed to the Mediterranean Sea
as part of Attack Carrier Air Wing EIGHT aboard USS FORRESTAL
Upon its return from the Mediterranean, VAH-6 was transferred
to NAS Sanford, Florida, to commence transition to the
RA-5C “Vigilante.” On 16 September 1965, the first Vigilante
was received and on 23 September 1965, the Squadron was redesignated
Reconnaissance Attack Squadron SIX (RVAH-6).
RVAH-6 flight crews carrier qualified aboard USS INDEPENDENCE
(CVA 62) in January 1966. The Squadron won REDEX 3-66
in March 1966, and then departed for San Diego to engage in
air operations with Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN embarked
aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64). On 12 May 1966, USS CONSTELLATION
with RVAH-6 embarked, departed for the Western Pacific.
During the eight-month cruise, RVAH-6 engaged in combat reconnaissance
over North Vietnam. The Squadron flew pre-strike,
bomb damage assessment and electronic recommaissance missions
on a daily basis in support of Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN,
Commander Task Force SEVENTY- SEVEN and other military units.
On 4 December 1966, the Squadron returned to NAS Sanford
and commenced training in preparation for a second combat
cruise. In July 1967, the Squadron made a short deploymentto
the West Coast to operate with Attack Carrier Air Wing TWO.
RVAH-6 departed NAS Sanford for pre-deployment operations aboard
USS RANGER in September 1967 and departed for the Gulf of Tonkin
in November 1967. There the Squadron participated in air operations
over North Vietnam flying reconnaissance missions for
Attack Carrier Air Wing TWO, Commander Task Force 77 and other
military units. At the end of the second line period, the USS
RANGER was ordered to the Sea of Japan as a result of the Pueblo
incident in January 1968. With this shift to the North, the
Squadron experienced an abrupt transition from a tropical flying
environment to sub-freezing temperatures in the Sea of Japan.
RVAH-6 returned to the Gulf of Tonkin in late March and continued
air operations over North Vietnam for two more line
periods, returning to the United States at the end•of May 1968.
USS RANGER and all embarked units were awarded the Meritorious
Unit Commendation for combat operations in the Western Pacific.
During RVAH-6’s second combat cruise, NAS Sanford was
closed and the RA-5C community was moved to NAS Albany, Georgia.
RVAH-6 was the first deployed squadron to return to the new base
and was given a memorable welcome.
In January 1969, RVAH-6 was part of Attack Carrier Air
Wing NINE deployed for the Western Pacific embarked in the
nuclear attack carrier, USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65). While undergoing
ORI, the ship experienced devastating explosions and the
Squadron was temporarily based ashore at Pearl Harbor. During
this period, RVAH-6 assisted in the photographing and mapping
of the island of Hawaii. In March 1969, the repairs to the
USS ENTERPRISE were completed and the squadron departed Barbers
Point for the Western Pacific. RVAH-6 and ENTERPRISE were commended
by Commander Task Force SEVENTY-SEVEN for their efficiency
and effectiveness in collecting and processing intelligence data
while operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. In April 1969, ENTERPRISE
was ordered to the Sea of Japan in connection with the downing
of a U. S. aircraft off the coast of North Korea. During this
second trip to the chilly northern waters for RVAH-6 in just
over a• year, the “Fleurs” and the “Big E” were part of the
largest task force assembled since World War II.
On 2 July 1969, RVAH-6 returned to NAS Albany and commenced
a temporary standdown period. On 8 August 1969 the Squadron was
temporarily assigned the mission of supporting the RVAH-3 flight
crew training program. While still maintaining its identity, the
Squadron eagerly accepted the assignment of providing operational
Vigilantes to meet the increased demands for training missions.
With the change of command on 11 March 1970, the “Fleurs”
ceased augmenting RVAH-3 and commenced their operational training
cycle while beginning to receive new Vigilantes direct from.
the factory. After more than a year ashore, the Squadron once
more put to sea for a carrier refresher cruise aboard USS KITTY
HAWK (CVA-63) in August 1970. With almost an entirely new complement
of officers and men, the Squadron was quick to adapt to
the rigors of sea duty and carrier operations.
On 6 November 1970, USS KITTY HAWK and Air Wing ELEVEN with
RVAH-6 embarked departed for the Western Pacific. During the
eight-month cruise, RVAH-6 engaged in 456 combat reconnaissance
missions. Throughout the deployment RVAH-6 responded to requests
from COMUSMACV and the First Marine Air Wing for special reconnaissance
support. The “Fleurs” returned to NAS Albany 18 July
1971, completing a year of operation in which the Squadron
flew more flight hours, more combat flight hours,. more combat
sorties and amassed more carrier landings than any other
RA-5C Fleet Squadron. All accident-free!
From 28 November until 13 December 1971, the Squadron
successfully answered a request for aid from the government
of Barbados. Staging from NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico,
a Squadron detachment flew daily missions recording the eruption
of historically-dangerous Mt. Soufriere on St. Vincent
Island, West Indies. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey,
the Squadron gathered valuable, and otherwise unobtainable,
research data on one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena.
Carrier qualifications aboard USS AMERICA (CVA 66) began
on 8 April 1972 off the Virginia Capes. April and May were
spent conducting the ORI, ORE and exercise EXOTIC DANCER V.
With only ten days remaining prior to a Mediterranean deployment,
RVAH-6 and Air Wing EIGHT learned they would be sailing
for Southeast Asia instead. The non-stop thirty-one day transit
around Africa commenced on 5 June. During the remainder of
1972, RVAH-6 compiled a most enviable combat record. The Squadron
flew pre-strike, bomb damage assessment, and electronic
reconnaissance missions in support of Attack Carrier Air Wing
EIGHT, Task Force SEVENTY-SEVEN, and other military units.
High-risk sorties were flown throughout North Vietnam in support
of Linebacker Operations. RVAH-6 was commended directly
by CINCPAC on 27 November when 45 enemy trucks were destroyed
following a squadron tactical reconnaissance flight. During
five line periods, RVAH-6 completed 303 combat sorties equaling
578 flight hours, again entirely_ accident-free.
On 22 March 1973, the Squadron returned to NAS Albany,
Georgia, terminating a most arduous combat cruise that culminated
with the signing of the Vietnam Peace Pact of 27
January 1973. Over 100 members of the Squadron received medals
or letters of commendation for the cruise.
Immediately after returning from WESTPAC, the Squadron
became a part of Attack Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN and
commenced training for a scheduled Mediterranean deployment
on board USS FORRESTAL (CVA 59). In September, the Squadron
won REDEX 3-73 in competition with our five sister squadrons.
During December 1973 and January 1974, the Squadron was enengaged
in air operations aboard the USS FORRESTAL.
On 11 March 1974, the Squadron deployed to the Mediterranean
in USS FORRESTAL. While in the MED, RVAH-6 participated
in several operations including “Flaming Lance” and
“Dawn Patrol.” July and August found FORRESTAL protecting the
United States interests affected by the civil war in Cyprus.
During two extended line periods, RVAH-6 provided sustained
tactical reconnaissance to the Fleet Commander. On 5 Sepember,
USS FORRESTAL departed Rota, Spain, enroute to the
United States and on 9 September, the Squadron’s aircraft
arrived at NAS Key West, Florida.
On 17 October 1974, RADM DIXON presented the Chief of
Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award to RVAH-6 for the most
outstanding safety record achieved among Reconnaissance
Attack Squadrons in the United States Atlantic Fleet in
Fiscal Year 1974.
In February 1975, RVAH-6 began buildups with Carrier Air
Wing ELEVEN onboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) which included
Exercise RIMPAC 75 off the Hawaiian Islands. On 21 May, the
Squadron deployed to the Western Pacific in USS KITTY HAWK,
returning to NAS Key West, Florida, in December 1975. While
deployed, RADM HARRIS, CTF-77 presented the COMNAVAIRLANT
Battle “E” to RVAH-6 for excellence in battle readiness by
placing first in reconnaissance wing competition during fiscal
In April 1976, during extended shore-based operations,
RVAI-1- 6 won first place in the Wing Competitive Readiness Exer
cise “Phoenix 76,” and in May, the Squadron completed its
annual Training Exercise with the highest assigned grade of the
cycle, flying all ten full-spectrum missions in an unprecedented
three and one-half days. Two months later, the Squadron achieved
another Vigilante milestone, surpassing 51 months and 5,100
flight hours without incurring foreign object damage attributable
to maintenance error. On 22 November 1976, CAPT WILLIAMS, COMRECONATKWING
ONE, presented the Bartholomew Award to RVAH-6 for
excellence in Naval Leadership.
January through August 1977, RVAH-6 received numerous first
and second place awards for monthly competitive reconnaissance
photography from COMRECONATKWING ONE. In May, the Squadron once
again took top honors in the Wing Readiness Exercise “Stone Crab.”
On 5 August 1977, RVAH-6 departed Key West, Florida, for
training on board USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) and on 1 December, was
underway for a seven and one-half month deployment with the
ship to the Mediterranean. On 6 December, COMRECONATKWING ONE,
once again, presented RVAH-6 with the Bartholomew Award for
excellence in Naval Leadership. Soon after RVAH-6 returned
from deployment on 20 July 1978, directions were received to
disestablish on 20 Oqtober 1978.
RECONNAISSANCE ATTACK SQUADRON SIX
Frederick L. ASHWORTH
Thomas F. CONNOLLY
Fred L. BATES
Ronald F. STULTZ
John F. REF°
Jan 50 –
Commander. William R. MCDOWELL
Commander Alton B. GRIMES
Commander Richard 0. MADSON Jul 58 – Aug 59
Commander James O. MAYO Aug 59 – Jul 60
Commander Charles W. MESHIER Jul 60 – Jun 61
Commander Ralph E. HERRICK, Jr. Jun 61 – Mar 62
Commander Richard L. KOPPS Mar 62 – Apr 63
Commnader Lynn W. ADAMS Mar 63 –
Commander Edward C. FRITSCH
Commander John L. UNDERWOOD – Dec 65
Commander Charles R. SMITH, Jr. Dec 65 – Dec 66
Commander William S. THOMPSON Dec 66 – Dec 67
Commander Carol C. SMITH, Jr. Dec 67 – Nov 68
Commander Edmond M. FEEKS Nov 68 –
.Commander Don M. SULLIVAN – Dec 69
Commander Patrick E. O’GARA Dec 69 – Mar 70
Commander Reeves R. TAYLOR Mar 70 –
Commander William J. BELAY
Commander James K. THOMPSON – Jan 73
Commander Ronald L. REAM Jan 73 –
Commander Clarence R. POLFER – Jan 75
Commander Lester H. BUTSCH Jan 75 – Jan 76
Commander Charles D. ROWLEY Jan 76 – Feb 77
Commander Gordon C. WILEEN Feb 77 – May 78
Commander Allen J. FRANK May 78 – Nov 78