VF-102 Diamondbacks Squadron Patch – Sew on
A 4 inch squadron patch of the VF-102 Diamondbacks
Fighter Squadron 102 (VF-102), the DIAMONDBACKS were established on July 1, 1955 in Jacksonville, Florida. The first aircraft to carry the distinctive DIAMONDBACK markings was the McDonnell F2H Banshee, a twin-engine fighter-bomber with four 20 mm internal cannons.
The DIAMONDBACKS’ inaugural deployment took place onboard the USS RANDOLPH (CV 15) in July 1956. After this deployment, the squadron transitioned to the Douglas F-4D-1 Skyray. This aircraft carried the new AIM-9B Sidewinder missile in addition to internal cannons. The squadron’s outstanding performance in the Skyray resulted in their entry into the 1958 “All Navy Weapons Meet.”
After a final deployment with the Skyray onboard the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) in 1960, the DIAMONDBACKS moved to NAS Oceana, Virginia and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom. The Mach 2 capable, two seat aircraft consisted of a pilot and a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) and carried only air-to-air missiles. This marked the beginning of a 20 year association with the Phantom. Highlights of this period include participation in Operation SEA ORBIT, the first Nuclear Task Force circumnavigation onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), winner of the Battle Efficiency (“E”) Award in 1964 and 1966, combat operations off the coast of Vietnam in 1968, a Meritorious Unit Citation in 1970 for the Jordanian Crisis Deployment and cross deck operations onboard the H.M.S. ROYAL in 1975 and 1978.
The DIAMONDBACKS bade farewell to the Phantom in June of 1981 and transitioned to the Grumman F-14A Tomcat. The Tomcat’s design provided the pilot and RIO with a formidable air-to-air radar and weapons system. The long range AWG-9 radar and its multiple track, multiple launch capable AIM-54 Phoenix missile system, AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and the six-barreled 20 mm cannon comprised the Tomcat’s weapons suite. With the addition of the Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod and the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) to the Tomcat, the DIAMONDBACKS added the strike and tactical aerial photo reconnaissance missions to their traditional fighter role.
In March of 1986, the DIAMONDBACKS departed Oceana onboard the USS AMERICA (CV 66) and headed directly for the Gulf of Sidra. The DIAMONDBACKS will long remember the operations below the so called “Line of Death,” especially our part in the history making raid on the 15th of April, 1986.
In the fall of 1990, VF-102 completed an accelerated work-up phase and deployed in late December to the Red Sea as part of Operation DESERT SHIELD. Two days after entering the Red Sea, the DIAMONDBACKS began flying strikes into Baghdad and other strategic targets in Iraq. VF-102 logged more than 1,400 combat hours during the six-week campaign, flying a variety of missions from both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
In 1992, VF-102 and the F-14 Tomcat entered the critical air-to-ground mission area thus solidifying the DIAMONDBACKS’ role as a strike fighter squadron and leading the way into the 21st century. The DIAMONDBACKS transitioned to the F-14B Tomcat in 1994 and were the winner of another Battle “E” in 1995.
In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, the DIAMONDBACKS departed NAS Oceana onboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). VF-102 arrived on station in the Arabian Sea in mid-October and flew combat missions in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. During that deployment, VF-102 flew 3,346 combat hours and dropped 645 bombs against enemy Taliban forces. The DIAMONDBACKS were awarded a Navy Unit Commendation and the Battle “E” Award for 2001.
Following their return from deployment and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, VF-102 was assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and transferred to NAS Lemoore, California to transition to the Navy’s newest strike fighter, the FA-18F Super Hornet. The DIAMONDBACKS were redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron 102 (VFA-102) in 2002.
reference source: VFA-102 website