Strike Fighter Squadron 105 (VFA-105) also known as the "Gunslingers" is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The "Gunslingers" are an operational fleet squadron and fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The radio callsign is "Canyon" and the tail code is AC.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
The first VA-105's insignia was approved by CNO
on 2 March 1953, and consisted of a yellow winged red canon and black bomb imposed on a yellow background. The squadron was known as the "Mad Dogs". The second VA-105's insignia was approved by the CNO on 20 September 1968, and has remained essentially unchanged. The squadron gained the nickname "105th Light Attack and Twilight Pursuit Squadron" during the Viet Nam War. "Twilight Pursuit" was a tongue-in-cheek referrence to the fact that squadron aircraft carried the air-air AIM-9 Sidewinder
missile. The current squadron often refers to itself as the "105th Strike Fighter and Twilight Pursuit Squadron".
Two distinct squadrons have been designated VA-105. The first was decommissioned, and the second was later redesignated as VFA-105, the main subject of this article. Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation. Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons.
The first VA-105 was commissioned on May 1, 1952
at NAS Cecil Field
flying the venerable AD-1 "Skyraider." The squadron changed home-base between NAS Jacksonville
and Cecil several times during the '50s. In Jul–Aug 1958, the squadron flew close air support
missions from USS Essex (CV-9)
during the landing of U.S. Marines in Beirut
, Lebanon. Aircraft from VA-105 were the first to be on station during the landings, and squadron aircraft flew road and border reconnaissance sorties. Several aircraft were damaged by ground fire on their reconnaissance missions, however all aircraft returned safely to Essex
In Sep 1958 when the Chinese
communists began shelling the Quemoy Island
was ordered to transit the Suez Canal
and report to the U.S. Seventh Fleet
for duty in the Taiwan Straits
. In Nov 1958, the squadron's mission was changed to training personnel in the AD-6 Skyraider. The squadron was decommissioned on 1 February 1959
The second Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIVE (VA-105) was established on 1 November 1967 at Cecil Field, flying the new A-7A Corsair II
. On 4 Mar 1968 the squadron completed A-7A training under VA-174
and became an operational Atlantic Fleet unit.
The "Gunslingers" embarked on their first deployment to Southeast Asia aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), participating in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin from January to October 1969. Following the shootdown of a Navy EC-121 by the North Koreans in April, Kitty Hawk was part of a continuing American presence being maintained off the coast of Korea.
In Sep and Oct 1970 following the hijacking of several airliners by Palestinians
, the outbreak of serious fighting in Jordan
and the invasion of Jordan by Syria
, USS Saratoga (CV-60)
, with VA-105 embarked, operated in the eastern Mediterranean, prepared to support an evacuation of Americans from Jordan and to show support for the Jordanian government.
In Jun–Dec 1972, the squadron participated in Linebacker I and Linebacker II operations, heavy air strikes against targets in North Vietnam to interdict the flow of supplies into South Vietnam.
In May 1973, the squadron upgraded to the A-7E.
As of Dec 1979 the "Gunslingers" had two Western Pacific and six Mediterranean deployments to their credit.
In Jun 1982 following the invasion of Lebanon
, VA-105 operated from USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)
to support an evacuation of Americans.
From Jul–Dec 1984, the squadron deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, assigned to MAG-12, 1st MAW. This was the first time a Navy squadron participated in the United States Marine Corps Unit Deployment Program (UDP) and the first Navy squadron since World War II to come under the command of a Marine Corps officer. While deployed with the Marines the squadron’s major mission was close air support.
During the '80s, the Gunslingers completed eight overseas deployments, including six to the Med, and a 1983 around-the-world deployment.
VA-105 was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIVE (VFA-105) on 17 December 1990, as the squadron transitioned to the F/A-18C
. The "Gunslingers" reported to CVW-3
aboard the USS John F. Kennedy
on September 1
. VFA-105 made their first Hornet cruise in October 1992
. They returned from the Mediterranean in April 1993
, and began workups for a deployment aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
in October 1994. VFA-105 and the rest of CVW-3 deployed in 1998 in support of Operation Southern Watch
and Operation Desert Fox
onboard USS Enterprise
On November 28
, 2000 VFA-105 embarked on the maiden deployment of USS Harry S. Truman
to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch
(OSW). The Gunslingers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
, operating from the Mediterranean Sea.
VFA-105 became the first East Coast squadron to transition to the FA-18E Super Hornet in July 2006. In March 2007, VFA-105 became the first operational Navy strike fighter squadron to be commanded by a female when CDR Sara Joyner took command.