Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (VFA-25) is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at NAS Lemoore. Their tail code is NE, their callsign is Fist, and they fly the F/A-18C Hornet.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
The squadron’s first insignia was approved by CNO on 28 September 1944 and was indicative of its mission as a torpedo squadron, consisting of a four leaf clover, horseshoe and flying torpedo.
A black fist clenching a red lightning bolt on a field of yellow became the squadron’s second insignia and has been in use, with some modifications, since CNO approval on 9 June 1949.
On 24 July 1959, CNO approved a modification to the insignia which added a scroll with the designation VA-25.
On 24 January 1974 CNO approved another modification to the insignia, adding three black stars. When the squadron was designated VFA-25 it continued to use the fist and lightning bolt insignia but dropped the three stars. 4 stars were again added (date unknown) representing wars in which VFA-25 has flown aircraft into combat: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and most recently, Iraq.
Two US Navy squadrons have held the designation VA-25. The first VA-25 would eventually become VA-65
and is not related to the subject of this article. The second VA-25 has a direct lineage to the current VFA-25 "Fist of the Fleet".
The Fist of the Fleet was originally commissioned as Torpedo Squadron 17 (VT-17) on 1 Jan 1943 at NAS Norfolk flying the TBF Avenger.
On 10 Sep 1943 the squadron embarked in USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), enroute from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego.
On 11 Nov 1943 the squadron flew its first combat sorties, striking targets in Rabaul.
The squadron flew numerous combat missions through Feb 1944, striking targets in Kavieng, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Truk and Tinian.
The squadron received its first TBM Avenger in May 1944.
In Feb 1945, the squadron flew numerous combat missions against targets in Japan and the Bonin Islands and provided ground support for the Invasion of Iwo Jima.
In Mar 1945m, VT-17 aircraft struck Japanese ships in the East China Sea, Inland Sea and around the Ryukyu Islands and land based targets in and around Okinawa. On 7 Apr 1945, VT-17, along with other units from the task force, attacked a Japanese naval force composed of the super-battleship Yamato and her escorts, scoring several torpedo hits on the Yamato and sunking one of her destroyer escorts.
From Apr –Jun 1945, combat missions were flown against targets in and around Okinawa in preparation for the invasion of that island, targets in and around Kyushu, Shikoku and ships in the East China Sea.
In March, 1946 the squadron transitioned to the SB2C Helldiver attack bomber, and was redesignated as VA-6B on 15 November 1946.
On 23 Sep 1947, the squadron transitioned to the AD-1, affectionately nicknamed the "Spad," the plane it would fly for the next 21 years.
The squadron sailed aboard the USS Coral Sea on its maiden voyage in early 1948, and was redesignated as VA-65 on 27 July 1948.
From 27 Oct to 23 Nov 1949, VA-65 embarked in USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42), to the Davis Straits area conducting cold weather exercises.
The outbreak of hostilities with which would become the Korean war
saw the squadron transferred to NAS Moffett Field
On 15 Sep 1950, embarked aboard the USS Boxer, squadron aircraft participated in combat strikes against shore defenses in and around Inchon, Korea, just before the landings at Inchon.
On 1 Oct 1950, VA-65 aircraft struck the North Korean capital of P’yongyang, hitting the airfield and scoring a direct hit on a large electrical power plant. On 23 Jun 1952, VA-65’s Skyraiders hit the Suiho power plant on the Yalu River.
In Feb 1955, while embarked in USS Essex (CVA-9) and operating in the Formosa Straits, the squadron provided air support during the evacuation of Nationalist Chinese forces from the Tachen Islands which had come under bombardment by the People’s Republic of China.
On 1 July 1959 the squadron was redesignated Attack Squadron TWENTY FIVE (VA- 25).
In Mar 1961, the squadron, while embarked in Midway, operated in the South China Sea due to the crisis in Laos.
In 1962, the squadron moved to its current home, the newly-completed NAS Lemoore.
From Apr 1965 through 6 Apr 1968, the squadron made three deployments in support of the Vietnam conflict, still flying the A-1. It was the last attack squadron to deploy and operate the A-1.
During this period, Fist pilots flew over 3,000 combat missions, dropping more than 10 millions pounds of ordnance on enemy targets.
On June 20, 1965, four VA-25 propeller driven "Spads" were engaged by two Vietnamese MiG-17's deep in North Vietnam — two of the Fists pilots were credited with a successful guns kill against one of the jet-powered fighters.
When the Fists turned in their A-1 "Spads" in 1968, it was the last tactical propeller driven squadron in the Navy.
In Jan 1968, squadron aircraft provided close air support for U.S. Marines besieged at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.
In Oct 1968, the squadron transitioned to the A-7 Corsair II, with which it again deployed to Southeast Asia, after only four months of training, aboard USS Ticonderoga. It was during this cruise that the Fists set a record — in 33 flying days, Fist pilots flew 1,650 sorties in combat. During this period, each squadron pilot averaged over 92 hours in the air.
In October 1970
, the Fists
began a long and successful relationship with the USS Ranger
, nicknamed "Top Gun." In the following two years, the squadron made two more combat cruises, expending over 15 million pounds of ordnance on targets in Laos
On 21 Nov 1970, squadron aircraft flew in support of Operation Ivory Coast, the attempt to free American POWs from Son Tay 20 miles west of Hanoi.
The squadron made four more deployments in the 70s aboard Ranger.
In Dec 1972, the squadron participated in Linebacker II Operations, heavy air strikes against targets primarily around Hanoi and Haiphong.
On 15 Jan 1973, the squadron participated in a large laser guided bombing attack against bridge targets in North Vietnam. This coordinated strike used the A-6 Intruder’s Pave Knife Laser Designation System to guide laser-guided bombs dropped by A-7 aircraft.
Following the cease fire with North Vietnam on 27 January, the squadron concentrated its attention on strikes against lines-of-communication targets in Laos until an agreement was reached with that country.
In Jul 1976 following the Israeli raid on Entebbe, Ranger, with VA-25 embarked, was ordered to transit from the South China Sea to the western Indian Ocean and operate off the coast of Kenya.
VA-25 was on station in the Indian Ocean
during the Iran hostage crisis
In May 1983, the Fists began training in the then-new F/A-18A Hornet. The squadron was redesignated as Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (VFA-25) on July 1, 1983.
Operational air wing training in multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises with the USS Constellation were conducted for the remainder of 1984 through January 1985.
In February 1985, the Fists departed on the historic "first deployment" of the F/A-18 Hornet aboard USS Constellation (CV-64) to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
In Jul 1987 during the Iran–Iraq War, VFA-25 provided air cover for reflagged tankers transiting the Straits of Hormuz during Operation Earnest Will.
In Jun 1989, the squadron transitioned to the FA-18C.
on August 2
, the Fists
responded aboard the USS Independence
, flying combat patrols in support of Operation Desert Shield
from the Gulf of Oman
for three months before being relieved by USS Midway (CV-41)
In 1994, aboard the USS Carl Vinson the squadron operated extensively in the Persian Gulf, flying missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch. In 1996, the Fists continued their participation in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Desert Strike. After being on station for more than three months, the Fists returned from deployment on November 12, 1996. In 1998, the Fists deployed on USS Abraham Lincoln, where they enforced United Nations no-fly zones in Iraq.
, the Fists
dropped several bombs on selected tactical targets in southern Iraq, and continued to patrol the skies in the Persian Gulf.
In July 2002
, the Fists
left NAS Lemoore for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment aboard Abraham Lincoln.
There the Fists
saw action in Afghanistan
as part of Operation Enduring Freedom
as well as over Iraq, in support of Operation Southern Watch. In the fall and winter of 2002, as the United States moved closer to decisive action in dealing with Iraq, Abraham Lincoln
was ordered to stay on station in the Persian Gulf
. After a total of three extensions and approaching their tenth month away from home, war was declared against Iraq.
On March 19, 2003
, the Fists
began combat sorties in earnest and Operation Southern Watch abruptly turned into Operation Iraqi Freedom
. The Fist of the Fleet
participated in the first-night air strikes to Baghdad
in what has become known as the Shock and Awe
campaign. The squadron sustained an average of 20 daily combat sorties, while striking targets in Basra
, An Nasiriya
, Al Kut
, Al Hillah
and ultimately Baghdad. The squadron’s 272 combat sorties over 18 straight days struck the Iraqi regime’s Medina, Baghdad, and Nebuchadnezzar Armored Divisions, military airfields, facilities and command and control infrastructure. VFA-25 returned to the United States in May 2003
VFA-25 deployed aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in May 2004 to the Western Pacific, returning November 1, 2004.
From January to 6 July 2006, VFA-25 deployed with CVW-14 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Valiant Shield aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on her maiden voyage.
- The squadron insignia on the F-14s in film Top Gun were not entirely fictitious but rather taken from other non F-14 squadrons. The characters Iceman, Slider and their F-14 can be seen sporting the VFA-25 insignia although the designation reads "VF-213".