HEAVY ATTACK SQUADRON TWO

 HISTORY OF HEAVY ATTACK SQUADRON TWO

HEAVY ATTACK SQUADRON TWO
Fleet Post Office
San Francisco
96601
 

 Heavy Attack Squadron TWO was commissioned on 1 November 1955 at U.S. Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington.  It was formed from Patrol Squadron TWENTY-NINE with Commander A. S. IRISH as the first Commanding Officer.  Shortly thereafter, the new squadron moved to Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego California. Here in April 1956, HATRON TWO received the new Douglas A3D-1 "Skywarrior" as replacement for its P2V "Neptunes".

 A year later, after many familiarization and training flights, the new squadron deployed to the Western Pacific, Detachment BRAVO introduced the Skywarrior to the Far East while operating with the Essex class carrier, USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31).  Det ALPHA served with the USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14). The remainder of the squadron, led by the Commanding Officer, Commander H. L. SALYER operated from Naval Air Station Cubi Point, P.I. Upon returning to the States in April 1958, VAH-2 moved to its permanent home station, Naval Air Stations Whidbey Island.

 In the summer of 1958, concurrent with the Middle East crisis, HATRON TWO Det HOTEL was quickly formed and flew to WESTPAC to serve with the U.S. Seventh Fleet.  A few months later, Det ECHO was formed to meet another U.S. commitment in the Far East. World tensions temporarily subsided and the detachments returned home.  On the trip back, Det ECHO scored another VAH-2 first by completing a night "Trans-Pacific-Flight" in the Skywarrior.  By mid-1959, HATRON TWO was reunited into a whole squadrons this time under the command of Commander K. E. GULLEDGE.

 On 27 March 1960, VAH-2 suffered a great loss when the new Commanding Officer,  Commander C. S. PORTER, and his crewman/navigator were killed when their plane disintegrated while on a routine training flight.  The vacancy left by the untimely death of the commanding officer was filled by Commander W. B. BARRON.

 In September 1960, for the first time in the squadron's history, it deployed-as a unit on the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) until the summer of 1961.  Shortly after returning to Whidbey Islands the Royal Rampants won their first Commander Fleet Air Whidbey Bomber Stream.  The Commanding Officers Commander L. E. KIRKEMO, accepted the prize the Bomber Stream Flag.  In additions HATRON TWO won the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for Heavy Attack Squadrons for the fiscal year 1961.  This award represented 4,733 accident-free flight hours.  As 1961 drew to a close the Rampants were sailing west again as part of the Carrier Air Group FIFTEEN aboard CORAL SEA.  The squadron had just finished the Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) for which they received the highest score ever given to a VAH squadron.  After completing the 1961-1962 Western Pacific cruise, the squadron returned to the States in July with commander W. D. FRIES as Commanding Officer.

 While shore-based at Whidbey Island, the rampants prepared for their next deployment by conducting training exercises, carrier qualifications and bombing practice.  In December 1962, LTJG C. A. Cleves scored five bulls-eyes on one bombing flight.  The Royal Rampants won the Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVAIRPAC0 Battle Efficiency “E” for fiscal year 1962 as the best Heavy Attack Squadron on the West Coast.  “HEAVY TWO” also won other honors in 1962 -- the COMFAIRWHIDBEY Top Bombing Squadron Award.  Additionally, LT D. L. HAHN was selected as COMFAIRWHIDBEY Top Bombardier for that year.

 On 1 April 1963, HATRON TWO departed Whidbey Island for its third cruise to WESTPAC aboard the USS CORAL SEA.  Commander R. C. SMALL, Commanding Officer and “Head Royal Rampant,” led the squadron to a mark of “excellence” in the ORI.  Squadron personnel agreed unanimously that the cities of Australia were the best ports-of-calls of the cruses.  Upon returning home in November, VAH-2 saw its Royal Rampant insignia at the tip of both the COMFAIRWHIDBEY Safety an Bombing Totem Poles.  In January 1964, Det MIKE was established to deploy to the Far East aboard the USS RANGER (CVA-61).  HEAVY TWO received additional A3B’s crews, and support personnel for this new detachment.

 For the second consecutive year, the Royal Rampants won the COMFAIRWHIDBEY Top Bombing Squadron Trophy.  Captain D. G. GUMZ, COMFAIRWHIDBEY, presented the awards in February 1964.  He also presented a trophy and a citation to LTJG H. W. KING for being selected as the best Heavy Attack Bombardier/Navigator on the West Coast.  Later that month LTJG I. K. GRAHAM scored three consecutive bulls-eyes in one flight at the Boardman Bomb Range, Boardman, Oregon.

 Commander C. H. LINDBERG relieved Commander R. C. SMALL  as Commanding Officer of VAH-2 on 17 March 1964.  Later that same month VAH-2 demonstrated the A3B’s long range striking capability during “Operation Longhorn.”  The air craft were launched from the USS CORAL SEA off the West Coast of California, flew a simulated strike on the city of Dallas, Texas, and then returned to the ship.  The non-stop flight was made possible with the in flight refueling capability of the Skywarrior.  In April, the Royal Rampants were awarded the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency “E” award for the period 1962-1964.  This was HEAVY TWO’s second consecutive “E”.

 Det MIKE departed the states in August aboard USS RANGER for WESTPAC with Lieutenant Commander D. E. BRANDENBURG  as Officer in Charge.  During this month HATRON TWO won the COMFAIRWHIDBEY Bomber Steam Flag again.  This time the A4C “Buddies” of VA-153 participated with the Rampants as an Air Wing FIFTEEN team effort.  Commander  C. H. LINDBERG logged accident-free hour number 10,000 on 12 August 1964.  This record included eight consecutive quarterly aviation safety awards and thousands of hours of diligent work by all the Royal Rampants.

 In September, that same year, LT C. F. KLUSMAN, a recent escapee from a Pathet Lao prisoner-of-war camp in Laos completed the first leg of his return trip to the United States in a HATRON TWO A3B.  Lieutenant Commander, C. D. BALL III, Lieutenant JG, RAYMOND COOK, and ADR2, BILL STEARNS of Det MIKE flew LT KLUSMAN from Saigon to Naval Air Station, Cubi Point, P. I.

 In preparation for its forthcoming deployment on the CORAL SEA, HATRON TWO’s strike capability was tested during :Operation Union Square”.  The squadron again came through with an outstanding performance.

 In December 1964, HATRON TWO departed the states aboard USS CORAL SEA for its fourth deployment to the Far West.  The Rampants demonstrated their outstanding capabilities during the ORI.

 While temporarily shore-based in Hawaii, VAH-2 scored another first in Carrier Aviation.  On 13 December three A3B’s were catapulted at night from the CORAL SEA while it was moored to the pier at Ford Island.  The ship/air wing team proceeded westward on 16 January 1965.

 LCDR W. E. FOSTER, of Det MIKE, made the USS RANGER’s 50,000th CCA (Carrier Controlled Approach) on 26 January 1965.  The same landing was LCDR FOSTER’s 500th carrier landing.

 February was a fateful month.  With the squadron just a few hours away from completing 15,000 accident-free hours, on 24 February NL-604 crashed at sea.  CORAL SEA helicopters safely rescued Crew #3 (LCDR G. GEDNEY, Jr., LT J. D. BERRY, and BISHOP, E. E. AQB2) within a few minutes after they bailed out of the aircraft.  

On 12 March 1965, Commander R. M. de LORENZI relieved Commander C. H. LINDBERG as Commanding Officer.  That same month, Commander J. P. SUNDBERG relieved Commander K. M. SANDON AS executive officer of the squadron.

 In 1964, VAH-2 Det MIKE was the first Detachment to drop ordnance in combat.  Following, on 29 March 1965, VAH-2 became the first Heavy Attack Squadron to drop ordnance in combat.  Six A3B’s led by Commanding Officer, Commander R. M. de LORENZI, participated in a strike on Bach Long Vi Island located in the Gulf of Tonkin.  Even though heavy haze precluded visual sighting of the targets, the crews of VAH-2 dropped 12 tons of ordnance and successfully destroyed their assigned targets.

 On 14 May, LCDR C. J. CELLAR, Jr., completed CORAL SEA’s 142,000th arrested landing.

 ON 2 June, CDR. R. F. DREESEN relieved CDR. D. E. BRANDENBURG as Officer-in Charge of Detachment MIKE which was redesignated Detachment FOXTROT, and began training for a forthcoming cruise.

 The Royal Rampants were expecting to leave Japan on 12 June 1965, aboard the CORAL SEA and return to the United States when they were notified that CORAL SEA would be steaming back to the South China Sea for an indefinite extension in the Viet Nam area.

 On 14 July, LCDR C. J. CELLAR, Jr., made the ship's 145,000th arrested landing.  On 15 August, LCDR G. GEDNEY, Jr., made his 800th arrested carrier landing.  Few Naval Aviators with the rank of Lieutenant Commander have achieved this number.

 The A3B’s demonstrated their versatility as bombers, airborne tankers, and reconnaissance aircraft.  As a results of the extended deployment with Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN (CFW-15) Heavy Attack Squadron TWO compiled the following operational data:

a.     Days deployed - 331 days

b.     Days at sea - 245

c.     Days in the combat zone - 164

d.     Flight hours - 4,873.4

e.     Combat missions flown - 1,176

f.     Arrested landings completed - 1,556 (1,107 day and 449 night)

g.     Centurions - 35

h.     Jet fuel transferred - 4,150,000 pounds

i.     Availability for scheduled flights - 99%

j.     Ordnance dropped - 400,000#

k.    17 jet aircraft of Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN (CVW-15) were saved by VAH-2.  Airborne tankers refueled aircraft that had incurred combat damage to fuel systems so they could safely return to CORAL SEA.

l.     VAH-2 flight crew-members were awarded a total of 163 Air Medals and 39 Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V for their participation in combat operations during the 1965 deployment.

m.   The ship/air-wing team was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation “For exceptionally meritorious service during the period 7 February to 18 October 1965 while participation in combat operations in Southeast Asia in support of United States policy.”

 

On 1 November 1965, the Royal Rampants celebrated their TENTH Anniversary as a Heavy Attack Squadron.  It was a most memorable day for the squadron personnel who arrived at Whidbey that day after 331 days away from the continental United States.

 The busy year of 1965 closed with the departure of Detachment FOXTROT on 8 December with Attack Carrier Air Wing NINE (CVW-9) on board USS RANGER (CVW-61) for deployment to the Western Pacific area.

 On 28 January 1966,  Rear Admiral W. E. FERRALL, Commandant THIRTEENTH Naval District, presented Air Medals to VAH-2 flight crew-members for their participation in combat operations in Viet Nam, and persented the Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement to L. S. Mc PETERS, AEC,  and a former Royal Rampant, T. N. CLARK, ADJC.  Rear Admiral FERRALL, presented the Commander Fleet Air, Whidbey Aviation Safety Totem Pole for Fiscal Year 1965 to Heavy Attack Squadron TWO for its outstanding safety record.

 That same day 18 Royal Rampants were awarded the Commanding Officer, USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43)  Letter of Commendation for their outstanding performance during the 1965 WESTPAC deployment.

 On 18 March 1966, CDR J. P. SUNDBERG relieved CDR R. M. de LORENZI as Commanding Officer of VAH-2.  Later that month CDR D. K. FORBES relieved CDR. R. F. DREESEN as the Officer-in-charge of Detachment FOXTROT.

 CDR R. A. ZICK was the Officer-in-Charge of newly formed Detachment ALFA which deployed with Attack Carrier Air Wing TWO (CVW-2) on board the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) in late 1966.  This detachment deployed with 5 A3B bomber-tankers and 8 flight crews to perform their mission.

 The Royal Rampants of Heavy Attack Squadron TWO are proud of their outstanding squadron and its exemplary performance as the “Best Heavy Attack Squadron in the U. S. Navy.”

*****