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Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 “Stingers”

Squadron History

With the motto of First and Finest, Strike Fighter Squadron One One Three was commissioned as Fighter Squadron One One Three on July 15th, 1948. Nicknamed the "Stingers," the squadron first proved itself in the first strikes flown by the U.S. Navy over Korea where the squadron flew the F4U "CORSAIR" from both the USS PHILIPPINE SEA (CVA 47) and USS VALLEY FORGE (CVA 45). After Korea, the Stingers traded in their F-4U "CORSAIR" jets for the Grumman "PANTHER" and later "COUGAR" aircraft. After four years of flying the "PANTHER" and "COUGAR," the Stingers were given a new role, a new designation, and a new jet. Fighter Squadron One One Three was re-designated an Attack Squadron in March 1956 and equipped with the A-4D "SKYHAWK."

October 1965 brought the Stingers back to the Western Pacific, this time flying combat missions over Vietnam in the A-4C version of the "SKYHAWK." The squadron flew numerous missions into North Vietnam against enemy lines of communications, and also flew close air support missions over South Vietnam in support of troops on the ground. December marked their transition from the A-4 "SKYHAWK" to the A-7 "CORSAIR II" aircraft.

VA-113 returned to combat operations in Southeast Asia during December 1970 on board USS RANGER (CV 61). The squadron's performance during this deployment earned it the Admiral McClusky Award, given annually to the "Outstanding Attack Squadron in the Navy."

In November of 1972 VA-113 departed for another combat cruise to Southeast Asia. During this deployment the squadron participated in air strikes in support of Linebacker II and saw action over South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.

May 1974 found the Stingers again returning to the Western Pacific as an integral part of the Carrier Air Wing 2/USS RANGER fighting team. VA-113 continued this association for the next eight years, completing four more peacetime WESTPAC deployments while at the same time beginning a trend of accident-free flying in the A-7E "CORSAIR II" which led to them reaching the 40,000 accident-free flying hours mark in August of 1982.

March 25th, 1983 marked the dawning of the Strike Fighter Squadron era as VA-113 re-designated to VFA-113 and traded its stalwart A-7 "CORSAIR" for the brand new F/A-18 "HORNET." The squadron completed the historic transition to the new multi-role Hornet and on December 14th, 1983 became the first fleet operational, combat ready Strike Fighter Squadron in the U.S. Navy. The squadron soon embarked for the first carrier deployment of the multi-mission F/A-18 with Carrier Air Wing Fourteen on board USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) in February 1985.

After numerous deployments flying the "HORNET" throughout the late 1980's, in June 1990 the Stingers once again sailed to the Western Pacific, this time on board USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62). As the world's eyes focused on the Persian Gulf crisis, the Stingers found themselves first on the scene, combat ready, and dedicated to draw the line against the advance of terror. Following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces in August 1990, USS INDEPENDENCE, as part of Battle Group Delta, was the first aircraft carrier on station. Immediately making their presence known with missions flown over the northern Persian Gulf, VFA-113 contributed to the U. S. Navy's bold effort to forestall further Iraqi aggression until other U.S. and foreign forces could arrive in theater. The Stingers made additional deployments to the Western Pacific and to the Persian Gulf participating in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Desert Strike throughout the mid-1990s while stationed onboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70).

In March 1997, LT Keith "Gunny" Henderson and the Stingers made Naval Aviation history when while flying aircraft 301 he broke the 100,000-mishap free flight hour mark. No tactical fleet squadron had even come close to such a milestone at the time, making the Stingers the safest tactical aircraft squadron in aviation history.

The year 1998 marked the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of VFA-113. The Stingers celebrated a half century of flying while on deployment in the Western Pacific at the time. Between 1998 and 2006, the Stingers made multiple deployments off of both the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) and USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) aircraft carriers, participating in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom following the September 11th Terrorist Attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2001.

In 2006, the Stingers moved along with Carrier Air Wing Fourteen to deploying off of their country's newest operational carrier, USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76). The Stingers took part in the REAGAN'S maiden deployment from January through July of 2006 operating throughout the Western Pacific and also the Arabian Gulf where they flew missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning home in July of 2006, they were ordered back to sea from February through April of 2007 for a surge deployment to the Western Pacific.

The Stingers deployed again in May of 2008 where they flew missions in support of coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan before returning home in November of 2008. During the deployment, the squadron celebrated its sixtieth birthday and also celebrated being awarded the Overall Excellence Award from Carrier Air Wing Fourteen.

On March 12th, 2009, the squadron surpassed 150,000 hours of class-A mishap free-flight time. This noteworthy milestone comes almost thirty-five years after the Stingers last had a class-A mishap, when an A-7 Corsair suffered an engine failure and was lost on May 12th, 1974.

In November 2010 the squadron deployed aboard the USS CARL VINSON in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and returned in June 2011. The Stingers again deployed in November 2011 aboard USS CARL VINSON. VFA-113 accomplished a 100% combat sortie completion rate and was recognized with the Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) Golden Wrench and Top Hook honors for cruise upon return in May 2012.

In March 2013, the Stingers were awarded the 2012 Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific (CNAP) Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") Award. The squadron was also recognized with the Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Fleet (CSFWP) 2012 AOC Scott F. Kirby Award for Ordnance Excellence. The year 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the squadron flying the F/A-18 HORNET.

Starting in late 2015, VFA-113 Transition aircraft and acquired a brand new set of 12 F/A-18E Super Hornets. These were, at the time, some of the newest and most capable Rhinos in the fleet. In October of 2017, VFA-113 employed aboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedoms Sentinel. While on cruise, The Stingers of VFA-113 supported CVW-17 both in combat and around the ship as the Air Wings premier tanking squadron. In operations abroad, the Stingers Employed more than 50 munitions in support of counter-ISIS operations. The pilots of VFA-113 distinguished themselves in the Air Wing by sweeping the Top Hook award for 4 consecutive line periods, proving to be the most competent Naval Aviators when flying behind the ship.

July 15th, 2018, the Stingers celebrated their 70th Anniversary. The squadron remains ready to execute U.S. policy at home and abroad as well as do it as the safest tactical aviation squadron in U.S. Naval Aviation history, anytime, anyplace!​

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