Friday, March 12, 2010

VFA-201 Hunters - RIP

VFA-201 Hunters were a Navy Reserve F-18 Squadron located at NAS Ft. Worth. Established on July 25, 1970 at NAS Dallas, the unit flew F-8H, F-4N, F-4S, F-14A, F-18A, and finally F-18A+ aircraft before being disestablished in 2007.

The unit made Navy history in 2003, when it became the first Navy Reserve combat unit to be called to active duty combat service since the Korean War. Receiving the callup, the unit converted from F-18A to A+ aircraft, worked up, qualified, and in less than 3 months from callup date deployed on the USS Roosevelt for a six month combat tour in support of OIF. The squadron dropped over 220,000 lbs. of weapons on Iraqi targets.

After returning fromthe cruise, it kept up its training, but was disestablished on June 30, 2007 due to budget cuts. VFA-204, based at NAS New Orleans, had been slated for disestablishment instead, but in the aftermath of Katrina, politics jumped up and declared that the jobs couldn't be lost in New Orleans - instead the combat proven -201 stood down. Many of its personnel retired, some moved on to other billets.

I shot an awful lot of Kodachrome on Hunters' jets over the years - it is sad to know they are gone, never to return.

Here is their OIF 2003 cruise video, broken into 3 parts, followed by a bit of cockpit video of a Hunters pilot doing some ACM over Texas. Looks like a lot of fun!

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