VA-52 Knight Riders Squadron Patch – Plastic Backing
Lineage: Established as Fighter Squadron EIGHT HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR (VF-884), a reserve squadron, on 1 November 1949. Called to active duty on 20 July 1950. Redesignated Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR (VF-144) on 4 February 1953. Redesignated Attack Squadron FIFTY TWO (VA-52) on 23 February 1959. The first to be assigned the VA52 designation.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname VF-884 was assigned to NAS Olathe, Kansas, prior to being called to active duty. The insignia, approved by CNO on 29 January 1951, portrayed its association with the state of Kansas. The circular designed insignia centered around a determined looking Jayhawk with a club in its hand. Inside the insignia were the words “Bitter Birds,” reflecting the squadron’s feelings about the Korean Conflict and its call to active duty. Colors for the insignia were: blue Jayhawk with red head and yellow beak, gloves and shoes; black club; and a white background outlined in red. When VF-884 was redesignated VF-144 on 4 February 1953 the old insignia apparently fell out of use and a new insignia was not approved until 23 May 1956. The new design depicted a stylized bird diving in the sky surrounded by a cone-shaped barrier.
Colors were: a blue background outlined in black; six white stylized stars, three above and three below the bird; a white outer cone with a yellow inner part; and a black bird. In 1959 VF-144 was redesignated VA-52 and a squadron insignia was approved by CNO on 5 January 1960. This design depicts a stylized knight riding a sea turtle and armed with a mace. The knight and turtle are superimposed on a target. With the assignment of an attack mission the squadron’s new insignia was designed to portray the pilot in the role of the knight, the legendary protector of honor. His means of transportation was a sea turtle, a capable and speedy performer in his element, the sea. Using his mace, a feared weapon from an earlier time, he exemplified the squadron’s powerful striking capability. Colors for the insignia were: the outer part of the circular insignia was outlined in black; the next concentric circle was a light blue, followed by alternating colors of red and white to form the target; a white and black knight and turtle, with the boots and gloves of the knight a solid black; the spikes of the mace were solid black; the turtle was shaded black; the eye of the turtle was red; and a white scroll with black lettering. Nickname: Bitter Birds, 1951-circa 1953. Knightriders, circa 1960-present.
Chronology of Significant Events 20 Jul 1950: VF-884 called to active duty as a result of the Korean conflict. 28 Jul 1950: Squadron reported for active duty at NAS San Diego. Mar 1951: In the later part of March, VF-884 aircraft conducted their first combat operations, flying close air support missions on Korea’s eastern coast. 24 May 1951: VF-884’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander G. F. Carmichael died after parachuting from his F4U which had been hit by enemy ground fire. 4 Oct 1952: Lieutenant E. F. Johnson was attacked and shot down by enemy MIG aircraft. This was the first VF-884 and CVG-101 aircraft shot down by enemy aircraft. 8 Nov 1952: Lieutenant Commander Bowen, VF884’s third Commanding Officer, was listed as missing in action when his aircraft crashed near Pyongyang, North Korea. 4 Feb 1953: VF-884 was redesignated VF-144 during its second combat tour in Korea. In this change, the reserve squadron number was replaced by an active squadron number. 21 Feb 1953: VF-144 completed the last line period of its second combat tour in Korea. Its primary missions had been close air support of ground troops, interdiction of enemy main supply routes, and the destruction of military supplies, vehicles and troops. 18 Aug 1958: The squadron returned to NAS
The design of the squadron’s first insignia identifies their reserve home and reflects their feelings about being activated for the Korean Conflict.
This stylized insignia was approved for squadron use following its redesignation as VF-144.
The knight and turtle insignia has been in use by the squadron for over three decades.
Miramar following Ranger’s (CVA 61) first major deployment. The cruise took the squadron from Virginia to California, via Cape Horn, transferring Ranger from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleet. 23 Feb 1959: The squadron’s mission was changed to attack and it was redesignated VA-52. 13 Jul–1 Aug 1964: VA-52 aircraft participated in Yankee Team operations in South Vietnam and Laos, involving aerial reconnaissance to detect Communist military presence and operations. Other missions included weather reconnaissance and SAR. 2–4 Aug 1964: During a Desoto Patrol mission (intelligence collection missions begun in 1962), Maddox (DD 731) was attacked by three motor torpedo boats on 2 August off the coast of North Vietnam. Following this incident the squadron flew 44 sorties in support of the destroyers on the Desoto Patrol. 4 Aug 1964: During the night, two destroyers on Desoto Patrol, Turner Joy (DD 951) and Maddox (DD 731), believing themselves under attack by North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats, called for air support. Several A-1H Skyraiders from the squadron, along with several F-8s, were launched from Ticonderoga (CVA 14). Commander George H. Edmondson and Lieutenant Jere A. Barton reported gun flashes and bursts of light at their altitude which they felt came from enemy antiaircraft fire. 5 Aug 1964: Four Skyraiders from VA-52, piloted by Commander L. T. McAdams, Lieutenant Commander L. E. Brumbach and Lieutenant (jg)s R. E. Moore and P. A. Carter, participated in “Pierce Arrow,” retaliatory strikes against the North Vietnamese. Along with other aircraft from CVG-5, they struck the Vinh oil storage facilities and destroyed about ninety percent of the complex. The four aircraft returned with no battle damage. 6–29 Oct 1964: The squadron conducted rescue combat air patrols missions in support of “Yankee Team” operations. 7 Feb 1966: Lieutenant (jg) Harvey M. Browne was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity during rescue missions in the Republic of Vietnam. 13 Apr 1966: Commander John C. Mape was killed in action, becoming the third VA-52 commanding officer to be lost in combat action. 21 Apr 1966: The squadron completed its second combat tour of duty in Vietnam, having participated in Rolling Thunder operations designed to interdict the enemy’s lines of communication into Laos and South Vietnam. 9 Mar 1967: Commander John F. Wanamaker received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity during operations against North Vietnam.
27 Apr 1967: This was the last day of line operations for VA-52 and the completion of her third combat tour to Vietnam. During this deployment squadron operations included rescue combat air patrol missions, coastal reconnaissance, Steel Tiger missions and Sea Dragon operations. Steel Tiger involved concentrated strikes in southern Laos. Sea Dragon operations involved spotting for naval gunfire against waterborne cargo and coastal radar and gun battery sites. 7 Sep 1968: VA-52 deployed aboard Coral Sea (CVA 43). This was the first A-6 Intruder deployment aboard a Midway Class carrier. 8 Dec 1970–23 Jun 1971: During this period VA-52’s main emphasis was on operations in Laos against the enemy’s lines of communication and their transportation networks. 23 Nov 1971: Commander Lennart R. Salo became the first Naval Flight Officer to command an A-6 Intruder squadron. 3 Apr 1972: VA-52 commenced line operations from Yankee Station a few days earlier than scheduled as a result of the North Vietnamese invasion across the DMZ in South Vietnam on 30 March. During this line period heavy air raids were conducted against North Vietnam. These were the first major heavy air raids into North Vietnam since October 1968 and became known as operation Freedom Train. 16 Apr 1972: VA-52 conducted strikes in the Haiphong, Vinh, and Thanh Hoa as part of operation “Freedom Porch.” 9 May 1972: Operation Pocket Money, the mining of Haiphong harbor, was launched. VA-52’s Intruders took part in a diversionary attack at Phu Qui railroad yard while aircraft from Coral Sea conducted the actual mining. 10 May 1972: Linebacker I operations began and involved concentrated air strikes against targets in North Vietnam above the 20th parallel. During these operations VA-52’s aircraft flew armed reconnaissance, Alpha strikes (large coordinated attacks), mine seeding operations, tanker operations, and standard arm sorties (use of antiradiation missiles to destroy missile radar sites). 1–27 Jun 1972: VA-52 flew special single aircraft night missions designated Sneaky Pete as part of Linebacker I operations. 23 Nov 1973: VA-52 deployed with CVW-11 aboard Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as part of the first CV concept air wing on the west coast. VA-52’s Intruders were equipped with new ASW electronic equipment, the Multi-Channel Jezebel Relay pods. 24–28 Jul 1979: VA-52 and other elements of CVW15, participated in search and assistance operations to aid Vietnamese boat people. A total of 114 people were rescued through the efforts of the air wing and Kitty Hawk. These operations continued during August. 27 Oct 1979: South Korea’s President Park Chung Hee was assassinated and Kitty Hawk immediately departed the Philippine Sea for the southwest coast of Korea, where they remained until 4 November. 29 Dec 1979: During operations off Kitty Hawk, the squadron’s commanding officer, Commander Walter D. Williams, was lost at sea in a KA-6D. 3 Dec 1979–23 Jan 1980: After the assault on the American Embassy in Tehran and the taking of hostages on 4 November 1979, Kitty Hawk entered the Indian Ocean and operated in the Arabian Sea throughout this period. 19 May 1981: While transiting the South China Sea VA-52 aircraft spotted a small boat with 47 Vietnamese refugees on board and reported their location for rescue operations.
10–12 Oct 1983: Carl Vinson (CVN 70), with CVW15 and VA-52, were kept on station in the Sea of Japan after the attempted assassination of South Korea’s president. 14–31 Aug 1986: VA-52 participated in the first carrier operations in the Bering Sea since World War II. Most of the squadron’s 400 hours and 200 sorties were made under adverse weather conditons. 20–31 Jan 1987: VA-52 conducted its second period of operations in the Northern Pacific and Bering Sea. At one point the most effective means of clearing snow and ice from Carl Vinson’s flight deck was the jet exhaust from the squadron’s aircraft. 23 Sep 1987: During night operations off Carl Vinson the squadron’s Commanding Officer, Commander Lloyd D. Sledge, was lost at sea. Aug 1988: The squadron flew sorties in support of Earnest Will operations, the escorting of reflagged Kuwait tankers in the Persian Gulf.
Squadron F4U-4 Corsairs launch from Boxer (CV 21) during a combat deployment to Korea in 1951.
Home Port Assignments
Location Date of Assignment NAS Olathe 01 Nov 1949 NAS San Diego 28 Jul 1950 NAS Miramar Mar 1953 NAS Moffett Field 15 Jan 1962 NAS Alameda 29 Aug 1963 NAS Whidbey Island 01 Jul 1967
Date Assumed Command LCDR Glenn F. Carmichael 01 Nov 1949 LCDR Gordon E. Hartley May 1951 LCDR Frederick W. Bowen 07 Mar 1952 LCDR Robert E. McElwee 08 Nov 1952 LCDR John C. Coulthard Jan 1953 LCDR Dallas E. Runion Jul 1954 CDR Gerald A. Robinson Mar 1956 CDR Donald Michie 09 Aug 1957 CDR A. S. Taddeo 24 Feb 1959 CDR A. R. English 28 Oct 1960 CDR M. E. Beaulieu 30 Jan 1962 CDR Raymond W. West 17 Jan 1963 CDR George H. Edmondson 09 Jan 1964 CDR Lee T. McAdams 29 Dec 1964 CDR John C. Mape 10 Dec 1965 CDR Robert R. Worchesek 19 Apr 1966 CDR Lester W. Berglund, Jr. 30 Jun 1967 CDR James A. McKenzie 20 Jan 1969 CDR Robert H. Kobler 29 Jan 1970 CDR Douglas R. McCrimmon 20 Nov 1970 CDR Lennart R. Salo 23 Nov 1971 CDR Charles H. Kinney 03 Oct 1972 CDR Robert S. Owen 02 Oct 1973 CDR Clifton E. Banta 17 Jan 1975 CDR Daryl L. Kerr 23 Apr 1976 CDR William R. Galbraith 20 May 1977
Date Assumed Command CDR James R. McGuire 25 Aug 1978 CDR Walter D. Williams 08 Nov 1979 CDR Peter A. Rice 29 Dec 1979 CDR David T. Waggoner 09 May 1981 CDR Bruce V. Wood 27 Aug 1982 CDR Donald L. Sullivan 10 Feb 1984 CDR James M. Burin 26 Jul 1985 CDR Lloyd D. Sledge 08 Dec 1986 CDR Richard P. Dodd 23 Sep 1987 CDR Timothy Thomson 31 Mar 1989 CDR James M. Zortman 05 Oct 1990
Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received F8F-1 * F4U-4 01 Aug 1950 F9F-5 Apr 1953 F9F-4 and F9F-6 † F9F-8B Apr 1956 F9F-8 Aug 1956 AD-5 Dec 1958 AD-6‡ Dec 1958 AD-7§ Mar 1959 A-6A 10 Nov 1967 A-6B Oct 1970 KA-6D ** A-6E Jul 1974
* The squadron was not assigned aircraft before its call to active duty. Pilots trained in and flew F8F-1s that were assigned to the air station where the squadron was home ported. † The squadron operated a few of these models in the mid 1950s. ‡ AD-6 designation was changed to A-1H in 1962. § AD-7 designation was changed to A-1J in 1962. ** The KA-6Ds were received some time between September and December 1971.
86 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I
VF-144’s F9F-8 Cougar on the flight line at NAS Miramar, California, in 1957.
Major Overseas Deployments
Date of Date of Air Carrier Type of Area of Departure Return Wing Aircraft Operation 02 Mar 1951 24 Oct 1951 CVG-101 CV 21 F4U-4 WestPac/Korea 11 Aug 1952 17 Mar 1953 CVG-101 CVA 33 F4U-4 WestPac/Korea 03 Feb 1954 06 Aug 1954 CVG-14 CVA 15 F9F-5 Med Jun 1955 03 Feb 1956 CVG-14 CVA 21 F9F-5 WestPac 21 Jan 1957 25 Jul 1957 CVG-14 CVA 12 F9F-8 WestPac 20 Jun 1958 20 Aug 1958 CVG-14 CVA 61 F9F-8 SoLant/SoPac 05 Mar 1960 10 Oct 1960 CVG-5 CVA 14 AD-6 WestPac 10 May 1961 15 Jan 1962 CVG-5 CVA 14 AD-6 WestPac 21 Jul 1962 11 Sep 1962 CVG-5* CVA 16 AD-6/7 SoPac/SoLant 03 Jan 1963 16 Jul 1963 CVG-5 CVA 14 A-1H/J WestPac/NorPac 13 Apr 1964 06 Dec 1964 CVW-5 CVA 14 A-1H/J WestPac 28 Sep 1965 13 May 1966 CVW-5 CVA 14 A-1H/J WestPac/Vietnam 15 Oct 1966 29 May 1967 CVW-19 CVA 14 A-1H/J WestPac/Vietnam 07 Sep 1968 18 Apr 1969 CVW-15 CVA 43 A-6A WestPac/Vietnam 06 Nov 1970 17 Jul 1971 CVW-11 CVA 63 A-6A/B WestPac/Vietnam 17 Feb 1972 28 Nov 1972 CVW-11 CVA 63 A-6A/B & KA-6D WestPac/Vietnam 23 Nov 1973 09 Jul 1974 CVW-11 CV 63 A-6A & KA-6D WestPac/IO 21 May 1975 15 Dec 1975 CVW-11 CV 63 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac 25 Oct 1977 5 May 1978 CVW-11 CV 63 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac 30 May 1979 25 Feb 1980 CVW-15 CV 63 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac/IO 01 Apr 1981 23 Nov 1981 CVW-15 CV 63 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac/IO 01 Mar 1983 29 Oct 1983 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D World Cruise 18 Oct 1984 24 May 1985 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac/IO 12 Aug 1986 05 Feb 1987 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D NorPac/WestPac/IO 15 Jun 1988 14 Dec 1988 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D NorPac/WestPac/IO 05 Sep 1989 09 Nov 1989 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D NorPac 01 Feb 1990 31 Jul 1990 CVW-15 CVN 70 A-6E & KA-6D WestPac/IO
* Only two squadrons from CVG-5 were aboard Lexington for her transfer cruise from the Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic Fleet.
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I 87
A squadron A-1H Skyraider in 1966. The squadron began it active duty in prop planes, then transitioned to F9F jets in 1953 and returned to props when it received its first Skyraiders in 1958 (Courtesy Robert Lawson Collection).
Air Wing Assignments
Air Wing Tail Code Assignment Date CVG-101 A 28 Jul 1950 CVG-14* A 04 Feb 1953 CVG-14 NK† 1957 CVG-5/CVW-5‡ NF 26 Sep 1958 CVW-19§ NM 25 Aug 1966 COMFAIRWHIDBEY 01 Jul 1967 CVW-15 NL Jun 1968 CVW-11 NH ** CVW-15 NL 01 Jul 1978
* CVG-101, a reserve carrier air group, was redesignated CVG-14 on 4 February 1953. † CVG-14’s tail code was changed from A to NK in the latter part of 1957. The effective date was most likely the beginning of FY 58 (1 July 1957). ‡ Carrier Air Groups were redesignated Carrier Air Wings on 20 December 1963, hence, CVG-5 became CVW-5. § On 1 July 1967, VA-52 detached from CVW-19 and moved to their new home port at NAS Whidbey Island to transition from the A-1 to the A-6. ** The squadron was assigned to CVW-11 sometime in late 1969 or early 1970.
Unit Awards Received
Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award KPUC 26 Mar 1951 08 Oct 1951 17 Sep 1952 23 Feb 1953 AFEM 11 Aug 1964 22 Sep 1964 07 Oct 1964 29 Oct 1964 02 Nov 1964 06 Nov 1964 21 Nov 1964 28 Nov 1964 05 May 1990 01 Jun 1990 HSM 17 May 1981 02 Oct 1981 MUC 13 Nov 1979 08 Feb 1980 10 Nov 1984 07 May 1985
Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award 01 Oct 1987 15 Dec 1988 NAVE 01 Jul 1983 31 Dec 1984 01 Jul 1971 31 Dec 1972 NEM 25 Nov 1979 28 Jan 1980 25 May 1981 30 Sep 1981 NUC 02 Aug 1964 05 Aug 1964 10 Oct 1968 31 Mar 1969 07 Dec 1970 24 Jun 1971 09 Mar 1972 04 Nov 1972 RVNGC 01 Sep 1968 01 Apr 1969 VNSM 05 Nov 1965 01 Dec 1965 22 Dec 1965 14 Jan 1966 22 Jan 1966 16 Feb 1966 06 Mar 1966 31 Mar 1966 10 Apr 1966 21 Apr 1966 12 Nov 1966 18 Dec 1966 03 Jan 1967 07 Feb 1967 13 Feb 1967 16 Mar 1967 28 Mar 1967 28 Apr 1967 29 Dec 1968 30 Jan 1969 08 Feb 1969 02 Mar 1969 19 Mar 1969 30 Mar 1969 07 Dec 1970 30 Dec 1970 12 Jan 1971 04 Feb 1971 19 Feb 1971 01 Mar 1971 09 Apr 1971 26 Apr 1971 03 May 1971 17 May 1971 29 May 1971 23 Jun 1971 08 Mar 1972 25 Mar 1972 03 Apr 1972 22 May 1972 01 Jun 1972 27 Jun 1972 07 Jul 1972 04 Aug 1972 14 Aug 1972 05 Sep 1972 15 Sep 1972 02 Oct 1972 12 Oct 1972 31 Oct 1972
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I