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Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 “Warhawks”

Squadron History


The “Warhawks” of Strike Fighter Squadron 97 were commissioned on June 1, 1967 and assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14.  On May 28, 1968, they departed San Diego, California embarked on USS Constellation (CV 64) for the squadron’s first WESTPAC deployment.
Beginning in June 1968, “Warhawks” pilots proved themselves in combat while flying the A-7E Corsair II on strikes against targets in Vietnam.  From June 1971 to July 1990, the mighty “Warhawks” deployed aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Coral Sea (CV 43), and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), completing 14 deployments, and were the first squadron to reach five years and over 25,000 hours of mishap-free flying in the A-7E.
In 1991, the “Warhawks” transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet and have since deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) with Carrier Air Wing 15 and Carrier Air Wing 11, the USS Carl Vinson and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with Carrier Air Wing 11, and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing Nine.
In 2004, the “Warhawks” were assigned to augment Marine Aircraft Group 12 at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, becoming the first squadron in the U.S Navy to participate in the Navy’s Unit Deployment Program (UDP). In the span of just five years, the “Warhawks” would successfully complete two more UDP deployments to Japan, proving themselves a valuable asset to the United States Marine Corps.
The “Warhawks” of VFA-97 had two notable cruises upon returning to NAS Lemoore in 2010 to include WESTPAC 2011-2012 and WESTPAC 2012-2013 aboard the USS John C. Stennis, where the “Warhawks” employed the venerable F/A-18C Hornet with timely and precise results. In October of 2013, the “Warhawks” transitioned to the FA-18E Super Hornet and began their next workup cycle. The “Warhawks” deployed aboard the USS John C. Stennis two more times with Carrier Air Wing Nine, initially for WESTPAC 2016-2017 and then again for WESTPAC 2018-2019.
In 2021, the “Warhawks” became the second strike fighter squadron in the U.S Navy to transition to the F-35C Lightning II. Since joining Carrier Air Wing Two in early 2022, the “Warhawks” have been busy training the pilots of today using the Department of Defense’s fifth generation technology for the threats we may face tomorrow.
The “Warhawks” have participated in the Vietnam War, Operations New Dawn, Southern Watch, Restore Hope, Desert Fox, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. The “Warhawks” have won the Admiral Clarence Wade McCluskey award, three Safety “S” awards, two LTJG Bruce Carrier Memorial Awards for maintenance excellence, two Scott Kirby Awards for ordnance excellence, and two Captain Michael J. Estocin Awards, twice achieving the “Triple Crown”. Additionally, the “Warhawks” have earned a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, three Navy Unit Commendations, eight Meritorious Unit Commendations, six Battle “E” Awards, two Navy Expeditionary Service Medals, three National Defense Service Medals, two Armed Forces Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, Humanitarian Service Medal and 24 Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.  Today, the “Warhawks” stand ready to defend the United States and project her power wherever and whenever required.


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