Attack Squadron 125
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Death from Above - 1952
Drawn by Bud Southworth
VA-923 Rough Raiders
Mors ab Alto
VA-923 Rough Raiders
Spirit of St. Louis
W.A. Lacy/Sean Keenan
Nuclear Torch of Learning - 1959
Courtesy of Bobert Grappi
Rough Raider - 2000
Courtesy of Wayne Oetinger
1946 to 1952, there is no record of a Rough Raiders Reserve Attack Squadron FIFTY-FIVE E (VA-55E) patch.
1952, the "Mors ab Alto" or "Death from Above" or "Snake Around the World" patch was used by Rough Raider Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE (VA-923) during its Korean deployment aboard United States Ship Oriskany CVA 34. The patch is displayed above.
December 18, 1956, the Skylancers created the "Cougar Head" patch. The patch had a dark blue back-ground outlined in black; white scroll out-lined in black with black lettering; white stars; the cougar's face is brown and white with black markings; the lightning bolt whiskers were yellow and out-lined in black; the tongue and inside of the mouth is red.
May 13, 1959, when the Rough Raider mission changed a "Nuclear Torch of Learning" patch was created. This patch is displayed above.
October 3, 1980, Fighter Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE (VFA-125) adoped the "Nuclear Torch of Learning" patch with a few color modifications. The new patch had a black background outlined in gray; yellow scroll with black lettering and a gray outline; white torch with gray outlines; yellow flame outlined in gray followed by red, outlined in gray; gray electron rings.
January 29, 1991, Strike Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE (VFA-125) changed the gray patch colors to a light blue and a red and dark blue horizontal strip was added to the lower part of the patch.
Harry S. Gann
Gary "Buck" Rodgers
From 1952 to 1958, the squadron (VA-55E, VA-923 and VA-125) was known as the Rough Raiders.
In 1956, the squadron (VA-26) was known as the Skylancers.
In 11 April 1958, when VA-26 was re-designated VA-125 the Squadron again took the moniker Rough Raiders.
1980 to the present - VA-125 and VFA-125 are known as the Rough Raiders
Reserve Attack Squadron FIFTY FIVE E (VA-55E) was probably established during the activation of the Naval Air Reserve in 1946 and remained in an inactive status.
In January 1950, VA-55E was re-designated Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE (VA-923).
July 20, 1950, Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE (VA-923) was called to active duty.
February 4, 1953, VA-923 was re-designated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE (VA-125).
April 10, 1958, VA-125 was disestablished.
June 30, 1956, Attack Squadron TWENTY SIX (VA-26) established.
April 11, 1958, VA-26 was re-designated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE (VA-125).
October 1, 1977, VA-125 was disestablished.
November 13, 1980, Fighter Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE (VFA-125) established.
Date - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Location:
Before 1950 - - - - - - - - Naval Air Station St. Louis
August 2, 1950- - - - - - - Naval Air Station San Diego
January 1952- - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Miramar
June 30, 1956 - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Miramar
August 1956 - - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Moffett Field
July 27, 1961 - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Lemoore
Date - - - - - - - - - - - - Tail code - - - - - - - Air Wing
1950* - - - - - - - - D/NJ* - - - - - CVG-102/CVG-12*
June 30, 1956 - - - - Y/NC**- - - - - ATG-3
April 11, 1958 - - - - NJ - - - - - - RCVG-12/RCVW-12***
July 1, 1970 - - - - - NJ**** - - - - COMFAIRLEMOORE
June 30, 1973- - - - - NJ - - - - - - COMLATWINGPAC*****
November 13, 1980- - - NJ - - - - - - COMLATWINGPAC
* VA-923's assignment to CVG-102 was in August or September 1950.
** The tail code was changed from Y to NC in 1957. The effective date for this change was most likely July 1, 1957.
*** The Replacement Air Group designation (RCVG) was changed to Combat Readiness Air Group (RCVG) on April 1, 1963 and then to Combat Readiness Air Wing (RCVW) on December 20, 1963.
**** RCVW-12 was disestablished on July 1, 1970 and the squadron was assigned to Commander Fleet Air Lemoore. However, the tail-code NJ, which had been assigned RCVW-12, was retained by VA-125 and the other squadrons that had been assigned to RCVW-12.
***** COMFAIRLEMOORE was re-designated COMLATWINGPAC (Commander Light Attack Wing, Pacific) on June 30, 1973.
* CVG-102 was re-designated CVG-12 on February 4, 1953.
* The tail code was changed from D to NJ in 1957. The effective date for this change was most likely July 1, 1957).
Date Type First Received - - - - - - Type of Aircraft:
Before 1950 - - - - - - - - - Grumman TBM Avenger (Turkey)*
Before September 1950 - - - - Martin AM-1 Mauler
September 1950- - - - - - - - Douglas AD-2 Skyraider
October 1950- - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-4Q Skyraider
December 1950 - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-4 Skyraider
December 1950 - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-3 Skyraider
June 1953 - - - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-4B Skyraider
September 1953- - - - - - - - Douglas AD-4NA Skyraider
October 1954- - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-6 Skyraider
January 1957- - - - - - - - - Douglas AD-7 Skyraider
July 1956 - - - - - - - - - - Grumman F9F-8B Cougar
October 1956- - - - - - - - - Grumman F9F-8 Cougar
June 10, 1958 - - - - - - - - Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk **
August, 1958- - - - - - - - - Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk **
March 3, 1960 - - - - - - - - Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk **
September 1960- - - - - - - - Douglas AD-5/A-1E Skyraider **
December 1962 - - - - - - - - Douglas A4D-5 Skyhawk
May 19, 1966- - - - - - - - - Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk.
February 1968 - - - - - - - - Douglas A-4F Skyhawk
September 25, 1969- - - - - - Vought A-7B Corsair II
October 1969- - - - - - - - - Vought A-7A Corsair II
August 1975 - - - - - - - - - Vought A-7C Corsair II
February 19, 1981 - - - - - - McDonnell F/A-18A Hornet
March 10, 1981- - - - - - - - McDonnell TF/A-18A Hornet
March 12, 1981- - - - - - - - Vought A-7E Corsair II
April 1986- - - - - - - - - - Cessna O-2A
May 1986- - - - - - - - - - - McDonnald F/A-18B Hornet
July 1988 - - - - - - - - - - Douglas F/A-18D Hornet
1988- - - - - - - - - - - - - Boeing F/A-18C Hornet
1990- - - - - - - - - - - - - Beechcraft T-34C Mentor
* The squadron was assigned the TBM before 1950.
** November 30, 1962
The A4D-1 designation was changed to A-4A
The A4D-2 designation was changed to A-4B
The A4D-2N designation was changed to A-4C
The AD-5 designation was A-1E
For A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit see lower in this page:
Departure & Return - - - - - - Air Wing - - - - Carrier - - - - Aircraft - - - - - Area of Operations
Departure & Return - - - - - - - - Air Wing - Carrier - Aircraft - - Area of Operations:
05-10-51 to 12-17-51 - CVG-102 - CV 31- - AD-3/4Q - Korea
09-15-52 to 05-18-53 - CVG-102 - CVA 34 - AD-3/4- - Korea
03-03-54 to 10-11-54 - CVG-12- - CVA 21 - AD-4B/NA- WestPac
08-10-55 to 03-15-56 - CVG-12- - CVA 19 - AD-6- - - WestPac
04-19-57 to 10-17-57 - CVG-12- - CVA 16 - AD-6/7- - WestPac
08-09-57 to 04-02-58 - ATG-3 - - CVA 33 * F9F-8 - - WestPac
Assumed Command - - - - - - - Commanding Officer
Date Assumed Command - - - - - - - Commanding Officer
Assumed command before 1950 - LCDR Herb W. Wiley
March 24, 1952- - - - - - - - CDR John C. Micheel
February 1, 1953- - - - - - - LCDR Allan H. Gunderson
July 1953 - - - - - - - - - - LCDR John L. McMahon, Jr.
October 1954- - - - - - - - - LCDR Bernard E. Hackett
April 1956- - - - - - - - - - CDR John H. Bahlman
October 25, 1957- - - - - - - CDR A. J. Henry, Jr.
June 30, 1956 - - - - - - - - CDR Richard D. Greer, Jr.
April 1958- - - - - - - - - - CDR C. H. Carr II
July 15, 1958 - - - - - - - - CDR J. E. Thomas
December 11, 1958 - - - - - - CDR F. E. Ward, Jr.
November 30, 1959 - - - - - - CDR P. H. Durand
April 5, 1961 - - - - - - - - CDR O. L. Dauphin
April 9, 1962 - - - - - - - - CDR James W. Porter
May 29, 1963- - - - - - - - - CDR Earl F. Godfrey
September 14, 1964- - - - - - CDR William J. Forgy
August 27, 1965 - - - - - - - CDR Jack A. Endacott
July 29, 1966 - - - - - - - - CDR John D. Shaw
March 13, 1967- - - - - - - - CDR Gary H. Palmer (acting)
May 12, 1967- - - - - - - - - CDR Charles E. Hathaway
July 11, 1968 - - - - - - - - CDR Otto E. Krueger
July 31, 1969 - - - - - - - - CDR Ronald H. Caldwell
July 31, 1970 - - - - - - - - CDR George E. LeBlanc, Jr.
May 10, 1971- - - - - - - - - CDR James B. Busey IV
March 31, 1972- - - - - - - - CDR James M. Gleim
July 6, 1973- - - - - - - - - CDR Charles R. Bowling
September 12, 1974- - - - - - CDR Robert C. Taylor
December 17, 1975 - - - - - - CDR Denis R. Weichman
March 28, 1977- - - - - - - - CDR J. W. Keathley
November 13, 1980 - - - - - - CDR James W. Partington
June 24, 1982 - - - - - - - - CDR Jerry D. Palmer
October 14, 1983- - - - - - - CDR John A. Lockard
December 14, 1984 - - - - - - CDR Dennis V. McGinn
March 13, 1986- - - - - - - - CDR W. W. Pickavance, Jr.
June 15, 1987 - - - - - - - - CDR John C. Leslie, Jr.
September 2, 1988 - - - - - - CDR Joseph W. Parker, Jr.
December 1, 1989- - - - - - - CDR Alan R. Gorthy, Jr.
March 8, 1991 - - - - - - - - CDR David C. Kendall
Award - - - - - - - - - Inclusive Dates:
05-30-51 to 12-06-51
10-17-52 to 10-29-52
10-31-52 to 03-29-53
04-27-53 to 05-02-53
11-13-80 to 03-28-83
1946: Reserve Attack Squadron FIFTY-FIVE E (VA-55E) was probably established during the activation of the Naval Air Reserve in 1946 and remained on an inactive duty status at Naval Air Station St. Louis. VA-55E was assigned the Grumman TBM Avenger (Turkey) and Martin AM-1 Mauler.
January 1950: VA-55E was redesignated Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE (VA-923).
July 20, 1950: Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE (VA-923) Rough Raiders were called to active duty.
August 2, 1950: VA-923 Rough Raiders were stationed at NAS San Diego, California.
September 1950: The Rough Raiders were assigned the Douglas AD-2 Skyraider. Over the following months VA-923 was assigned many versions of the Douglas Skyraider including: AD-4Q, AD-3, AD-4, AD-4B, AD-4NA, AD-6, and in January 1957, the AD-7.
May 10, 1951 through December 17, 1951: Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE Rough Raiders flying the Douglas Skyraider, embarked on USS Bon Homme Richard CV 31, Korea combat cruise.
January 1952: VA-923 Rough Raiders were based at NAS Miramar near San Diego, California.
September 15, 1952 through May 18, 1953: Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE flying the Douglas Skyraider, embarked on USS Oriskany CVA 34, Korea combat cruise.
February 1, 1953: VA-913's commanding officer, Commander J. C. Micheel was killed in action in Korea.
February 4, 1953: VA-923 was redesignated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE (VA-125) Rough Raiders.
June 30, 1956: Attack Squadron TWENTY-SIX (VA-26) Skylancers established at NAS Miramar near San Diego, CA. VA-26 was assigned the swept wing Grumman F9F-8B Cougar.
August 1956: VA-26 Skylancers were based at NAS Moffett Field near San Francisco, CA.
April 10, 1958: VA-125 Rough Raiders were disestablished.
April 11, 1958: VA-26 was redesignated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE (VA-125). VA-125 was assigned the F9F-8 at NAS Moffett Field, CA. VA-125 took the moniker Rough Raiders.
April 11, 1958: VA-125's mission was changed from air-to-ground/surface attack to pilot and enlisted personnel indoctrination and training in fleet attack aircraft before combat carrier squadron assignment.
June 10, 1958: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE Rough Raiders were assigned the Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk.
August 1958: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE Rough Raiders were assigned the Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk.
December 11, 1958: The Rough Raiders CO Cdr. John E. Thomas, 41, was killed when he lost power (A4D-2 BuNo 142915) on approach and crashed into an orchard a quarter mile from the Bayshore freeway at NAS Moffett Field. Oakland, CA Tribune article. Hayward, CA The Daily Review article
October 5, 1959: IP Philip Langford Jr., 25, ejected safely before his Skyhawk (A4D-1 BuNo 142183) crashed into the mountains near Gilroy, CA, about eight miles south of Crows Landing, CA. Oakland, CA Tribune article. US Armed Forces Pacific Stars & Stripes article
December 15, 1959: Lt(jg). Burke Ward, 25, was killed when his Skyhawk (A4D-1 BuNo 142182) overturned and burned in an emergency landing at Crow's Landing while making an emergency landing after his hydraulic system failed.
March 3, 1960: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE Rough Raiders were assigned the Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk. With the addition of the A4D-2N Skyhawk, the Rough Raiders added radar and inflight refueling training to its flight syllabus.
August 16, 1960: Lt(jg). Gene Nommensen, 24, was killed Tuesday when his Skyhawk (A4D-2N BuNo 147707) crashed seven miles southeast of Fallon, during a night training mission. Pacific Stars and Stripes, (Saturday) 20 August 1960.
Lt(jg). Gene O. Nommensen, 24, was killed Tuesday when his Skyhawk crashed on a mountainside eight miles east of NAS Fallon on a training flight Tuesday night. Nommensen was attached to VA-125 at NAS Moffett, CA. Reno Gazette Journal, Wednesday, 17 August 1960.
Lt(jg). Gene Nommensen perished in south of NAS Fallon, NV while on a night training flight. Oakland, CA Tribune article.
February 17, 1961: Lt. Roland George Busch, 32, from Moffett Field, was killed when his A4D (A4D-1 BuNo 139942) crashed on take-off from the carrier Ticonderoga at sea Friday and sank before a rescue helicopter could reach the scene. Independent, Long Beach, CA, Saturday, February 18, 1961. Independent, Long Beach, CA, Saturday, February 18, 1961
Lt. Roland George Busch, 32, was killed Friday when his A4D Skyhawk plunged into the ocean while attempting to take off from the carrier Ticonderoga operating off the southern CA coast. Navy officials said the accident occurred when a second jet broke loose from a catapult as Busch's A4D was taking off. Busch tried to stop his aircraft before it reached the end of the deck but it toppled into the sea and sank before a rescue helicopter could reach the scene. Pacific Stars and Stripes, Saturday, February 19, 1961.
0638 A4D BuNo 139942 of VA-125, pilot Lt. R.G. Busch went over the bow from the port catapult and crashed into the sea at latitude 32-54N , longitude 117-36W and sank in 460 fathoms of water. Commenced maneuvering as necessary while searching for the pilot. 0800 search concluded. Results negative. Pilot Lt. R.G. Busch resumed dead. 0820 A4D BuNo 142203 of VA-125, pilot LCdr. W.R. Horner crashed on flight deck due to collapsed nosewheel. Damage to aircraft: major. 1141 sighted object in water believed to be a parachute. USS Ticonderoga deck log, Friday, 17 February, 1961.
July 24, 1961: VA 125 moved from Naval Air Station Moffett Field (near San Francisco) to Reeves Field, Naval Air Station Lemoore, California (near nothing). From that point until the fall of 1969, the Rough Raiders flew all models of the A-4 Skyhawk, sending over 2,000 replacement pilots and 12,000 maintenance people to the Pacific Fleet. During this period, the Rough Raiders had over 100 A-4 Skyhawks and were staffed with 1,400 officers and enlisted personnel assigned, making VA-125 the largest aviation squadron in the Navy.
December 19, 1961: Lt. R.M. Blythe, 23, escaped injury Tuesday night when his (A4D-1 BuNo 142203) crashed short of the runway at NAS Lemoore when he lost power. Eureka, CA Humboldt Standard article.
April 27, 1962: Lt J.A. Papa ejected safely when his Skyhawk (A4D-2 BuNo 142923) experienced electrical failure, flamed out and crashed near Tamo 19 miles SE of Pine Bluff, AR while on a flight from Dallas to NAS Jacksonville, FL. US Armed Forces European Stars and Stripes article.
March 2, 1963: Lt. Richard L. Grant, from VA-125, safely ejected from his A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo 147711) shortly before the aircraft crashed at NAS Lemoore. Bakersfield, CA The Bakersfield Californian article
May 31, 1963: Lt(jg). Roger A. Shaffer (VA-125, NAS Lemoore) ejected safely before his A4D Skyhawk (BuNo 145102) crashed and burned in a field eight miles north of NAS Lemoore Friday night. Eureka Humboldt Standard, Saturday, June 1, 1963.
September 12, 1963: Lt(jg). James T. Spence III of VA-125 was killed when his A4D Skyhawk (A-4B BuNo 142889) crashed during a routine training flight 55 miles NE of Fallon, NV., Thursday, Sept. 12, 1963. The Bakersville Californian, Thursday, Sept. 12, 1963.
Lt(jg). James T. Spence III, 24, of Pink Hill, NC, was killed when his A4 Skyhawk crashed and exploded near Fallon, NV. He was stationed at NAS Lemoore and was on a routine training mission when the crash occurred. Reno Gazette, Thursday, 12 September 1963.
October 10, 1964: Ens. William Charles Brooks, 23, attached to NAS Lemoore VA-125 was killed when his A-4 (BuNo 149554) crashed into the Pacific on a catapult launching from the aircraft carrier Coral Sea. Oakland Tribune, Sun., Feb. 9, 1964. 1842 A-4C BuNo 149554 of VA-125, Pilot ENS W.C. Brooks crashed into the sea off the starboard bow at latitude 33-10.12 N, longitude 119-08.06W and sank in 825 fathoms of water. 1843 Brinkley Bass (DD-887)and Cowell (DD-547) commenced search for pilot. 1945 Search concluded. Results negative. Pilot ENS W.C. Brooks presumed dead. USS Coral Sea (CVA43) deck log, Friday, 7 February 1964.
October 10, 1964: Lt(jg) J.R. Frazier perished (A-4C BuNo 149510) in a night FCLP accident at NAS Lemoore, CA. Freeport, IL Journal-Standard article
November 12, 1964 Lt. Richard A. Howard, 30, ejected safety when his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 149980) crashed into farmland seven miles NE of Coalinga today when the plane's engine failed in flight at about 4,000 feet, Lt. Howard was recovered uninjured. Oakland, CA Tribune article
February 20, 1965: Ens. Donald P. Huntley, yr., 24 was killed when his VA-125 A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 149511 went over the side of the USS Bon Homme Richard and crashed into the ocean about 11 pm Friday while the carrier was operating 10 miles west of San Clemente Island. The Fresno Bee, Sunday, 21 February 1965. 2258 hours A-4C Bureau No. 149511 of VA-125, pilot Ens. Donald P. Huntley, crashed into the sea off the angle deck, port side at Lat. 32-56N Long. 118-45W and sank in 625 fathoms of water. 2259 Commenced maneuvering on various courses at various speeds while searching for pilot. 2315 Launched helo to aid USS Ozbourn (DD-846) NPLG. in search of pilot. 0622 Detached USS Ozbourn (DD-846) for I.S. E. instructed Ozbourn to discontinue search efforts. USS Bon Homme Richard deck log, February 19, 1965 and February 20, 1965.
March 09,1965: Lt. (jg). Rosolino J. Territo, 23, of NAS Lemoore was killed when his A4C Skyhawk BuNo 147817 crashed and exploded in swampland east of St. Vincent's Hill as it was about to make a radar landing at Hamilton AFB at 7:20 p.m. yesterday. Territo’s plane was one of two making a practice radar approach to the base, to gain experience in landing at unfamiliar fields. He was followed by instructor Lt. Harold D. Barnhart of Lemoore, who said he lost visual and radio contact with Territo minutes before they were supposed to land. San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, Wednesday, 10 March 1965, San Rafael, CA.
The body of Lt. (jg). Rosolino J .Territo, 23, was found at 4:19 p.m. yesterday just south of the Hamilton AFB runway. Location of the body nearly two miles north from the wreckage raised the possibility that the jet had circled Marin County without a pilot. The pilots body was not in the line of the crashed plane, according to LCdr. Raymond Sinwell, information officer at NAS Alameda. The body was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter and recovered by a ground crew from Western Air Rescue at Hamilton. The parachute had streamed out, but failed to open, according to Western Air Rescue. The body was still in the ejection seat which had been covered by water during the day and was revealed at low tide. San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, Wednesday, 11 March 1965, San Rafael, CA.
Unknown pilot was killed when a NAS Lemoore based A4D single-seat jet crashed and exploded Wednesday night in marsh land along San Francisco Bay two miles south of Hamilton AFB and was evidently trying to land at Hamilton's airfield. The name of the pilot was not released. Pacific Stars & Stripes, Friday, March 12, 1965.
July 08, 1965: Lt. Job O. Belcher Jr., 31, ejected safely Thursday when his A4D Skyhawk (BuNo 149663) crashed near Crows Landing, about 20 miles west of Turlock, CA. The plane developed mechanical trouble while flying a practice weapons mission. The Daily Review, Friday, July 9, 1965.
August 04, 1965: Lt(jg). Clyde E. Edgar, 34, was killed Wednesday when his jet attack bomber (BuNo 147771) crashed at NAAS Fallen during a training flight. The public information office at Lemoore reported Edgar was taking part in weapons delivery training when the crash occurred. Nashua Telegraph, Monday, 09 August 1965.
Lt(jg). Clyde E. Edgar, 34, was killed Wednesday when his jet attack bomber crashed at NAAS Fallen during a training flight. He was identified by a Navy Spokesman at NAS Lemoore. Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada,) Thursday, 05 August 1965.
October 01, 1965: unknown USMC pilot ejected safely yesterday before his disabled A-4E (BuNo 149965) crashed 8 miles SE of Yuma.
October 15, 1965: Ens. Anthony Karl Vanko, 22, parachuted to safety Friday before his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 145115) crashed into Blue Ridge peak at about 5,300 feet nine miles SE of Three Rivers in Tulare county while on a training mission from NAS Lemoore.
November 17, 1965: Cdr. Wesley McDonald (CAG-15) ejected successfully Wednesday when his Skyhawk (BuNo 149966) flamed out on a flight from NAS Lemoore to NAS Miramar. Pasadena Star-News, Thursday, November 18, 1965.
November 22, 1965: LCdr. Charles Brown (VA-125) ejected safely from his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 150589) over the Pacific just before it exploded and crashed 15 miles SE of the Farallon Islands Friday. The Modesto-Bee, Sunday, November 28, 1965.
May 19, 1966: VA-125 was the first squadron in the Navy to receive the TA-4F Skyhawk.
May 25, 1966: LCdr. Joseph P. Cullen, 33, of NAS Lemoore, escaped injury when he ejected from his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 152009) before it crashed and burned in the Kettleman Hills of western Kings County yesterday. Oakland Tribune, Wed., May 25,1966.
June 1966: The first of several groups of Australians arrived for training by the Rough Raiders on the A-4 Skyhawk. The pilots were to form the nucleus of Australia's first A-4 squadron scheduled for assignment to HMAS Melborne (R-21).
August 19, 1966: Lt(jg). Walter Roy Cox was killed when his A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo 149609) crashed and burned at 3:45 p.m. near Shelter Cove yesterday. The plane was one of two on a routine training mission from NAS Lemoore. The crash site was located three hours after the wingman radioed the Arcata Flight Tower that the plane had crashed. The fog was too thick to attempt a landing and the plane apparently nosed into Queen's Peak and bounced over the top, the wreckage scattering over a large area on the Simpson Ranch. The crash, about three quarters of a mile inland and about two mile north of Shelter Cove, touched off a brush and timber fire which was controlled by 70 firefighters at 9:15 p.m. Eureka Humboldt Standard, Eureka, CA, Saturday, August 20, 1966.
I was a student in VA 125, starting in June 1966. That summer I lost a good friend, LTJG Wally Cox; who flew into the ocean on a simulated attack against the west coast up near SF. He was a student in VA-125. I don't have any more details... Allen F. Pulk (Feb. 2007)
March 13, 1967: The squadron's commanding officer Cdr. John D. Shaw was killed when his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 149659) landed aboard the USS Kearsarge, CVS-33, continued off the angled deck and crashed into the sea during carquals 115 miles SW of San Diego, CA. Long Beach, CA, Press-Telegram, Tuesday, March 14, 1967
1533 A-4E number NJ-503 of VA-125 pilot Cdr. J.D. Shaw, unhooked from #5 crosswind pennant and rolled off angled deck. Pilot sustained fatal injuries. Damage to aircraft: strike. Designated USS Walke (DD-723) as rescue destroyer. Maneuvered on various courses and speeds to close the crash scene. 1555 All engines stop. 1602 The Captain assumed the conn. Maneuvering to take lifeboat alongside to port. 1626 The remains of Cdr. J.D. Shaw were received on board from lifeboat.
July 29, 1967: Lt. William Olsen of NAS Lemoore, CA clipped a 66,000-volt transmission line in SE Oklahoma Saturday, but the A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo 150136) landed with considerable damage and trailing about 12 feet of electrical wire. The plane hit the power line about two miles east of Sawyer, 30 miles NE of Paris, TX, in Choctaw County, OK during series of low-level test flights over AR and OK called Joint Task Force II. Big Spring (Texas) Herald, Sunday, July 30, 1967.
October 5, 1967: Ens. B.J. Baker, 22, VA-125 at Lemoore, ejected safely from his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 145136) last night when he had a flameout after making an orientation pass on a target complex and the plane crashed in the desert about 18 miles SE of Yuma. Yuma, AZ, The Yuma Daily Sun, Friday, October 6, 1967. Phoenix, AZ, The Arizona Republic, Saturday, October 7, 1967.
January 25, 1968: USS Bennington's 104,000th landing was made by LCdr. Wilson C. Rook of VA-125. On Rook's next attempt that evening, his A-4C (BuNo 147810) struck the round down, exploded and skidded off the port side of the flight deck. His body was not recovered. LCdr. Wilson Rook, 35, of VA-125, NAS Lemoore is missing after his A4 Skyhawk fell into the sea about 20 miles north of San Clemente Island after a crash on the stern ramp of the aircraft carrier USS Bennington. Press-Telegram, Friday, January 26, 1968
March 7, 1968: Lt(jg). John C. Brittenhan ejected safely from his A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo 147777) yesterday when a napalm bomb refused to drop off during a practice bombing run and was hanging in such a manner as to make landing impossible. His Skyhawk crashed in the Chocolate Mountains approximately 45 miles north of El Centro. Arizona Republic, Saturday, March 9, 1968.
July 25, 1968 Lt. (jg) C. W. Brix ejected safely before his A-4E (BuNo 151170) crashed on takeoff at NAS Fallon, NV. Long Beach, CA, Independent Press-Telegram, Friday, July 26, 1968
September 11, 1968: Lt. Larry E. Smith, 29, ejected before his A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 148565) crashed and burned 12 miles SE of Mariposa while on a routine training flight. He suffered severe injuries and succumbed 16 September at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital
February 21, 1969: Lt(jg). James T. Dobbs, 25, was killed when his NAS Lemoore VA-125 A-4 Skyhawk (BuNo 151151) skidded off the deck of the USS Lexington and dropped into the Gulf of Mexico 40 miles S of Pensacola, FL, due to a mishap with the arresting gear.
March 31, 1969: The last A-4 Rough Raider Fleet Replacement Pilot class began. More than 2000 fleet pilots were trained during VA-125's "Skyhawk Era".
May 1969: Lt(jg). Thomas A. Toon IV was holding short for night FCLP when his O2 mask burst into flame. He tried to snuff it out against his leg which ignited his oil-stained cotton flite suit and he climbed over the side. From Boom Powell. Navy flier Thomas A. Toon IV died at Brooks General Hospital at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. He was injured in a plane crash in May. Iowa City Press-Citizen, Saturday, 16 August 1969.
May 29, 1969: Lt(jg). George B. Clark, 24, and 2nd Lt. James P. Lagano, 25, ejected when VA-125 A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 148537 (#3 in a four plane formation) after a mid-air collision with VA-125 A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149967 (#2 in a four plane formation ) following a live ordnance (Mk-81's) mission at NAS Fallon filmed by Lt. R.R. Powell from the backseat of a TA-4J. During the join-up, lead called a frequency change, #3 looked down and collided with #2. The Skyhawks locked together and #3 ejected. The airplanes came apart and both us instructors are screaming Eject, Eject! The nose section of #2 (A-4E) had come loose and was pounding on the canopy and the RP in #2 finally ejected from his falling A-4E after the nose section tore away, 29 May 1969. From R.R. Powell, 11 February 2016. Lt(jg). George B. Clark, 24, and 2nd Lt. James P. Lagano, 25, ejected safely when their Navy A4 attack jets collided and crashed during routine bombing practice Thursday near NAAS Fallon. A rescue helicopter picked up both pilots who are stationed at NAS Lemoore. The Bridgeport Post, Sunday, June 1, 1969.
Remember? Heck, I watched the collision. Fallon weapons det. Douglas had sent a camera man to get footage of A-4F for some PR bit. Couldn’t get clearance for him to fly so I was given quick instruction on how to work a three lens, battery powered, movie camera with color film and went in back of a TA-4 with another instructor (George ___?) in front. We had no Foxtrots on the det., but did have a pair of hump-backed Echoes which look the same. We were to chase a four plane live ordnance (Mk81s) mission and shoot footage before the flight went on the range. Camera was heavy, but got some good stuff of all four, then just the Humpbacks, then just the lead alone. Done, I let the camera rest in my lap. During the join-up, lead called a frequency change. 3# (A-4C) looked down and collided with 2# (A-4E). The airplanes locked together and 3# ejected. The airplanes came apart and both us instructors are screaming Eject, eject! The RP in 2# finally ejects from his falling Skyhawk. It was then I remembered the camera sitting on my lap! Like I said, almost famous. If I had gotten the accident on film… I did get distant shots of the crashes.
June 25, 1969: USS Bennington's 112,000th arrested landing was made by LCdr. Lowe of VA-125. Jim Winchester
June 25, 1969: During the night of the 25th, four minutes after a catapult launch, LTJG Victor A. Demick reported a loss of gyro in his A-4C aircraft. He was told to use the stand-by gyro, level his wings and climb. Lieutenant Demick reported his aircraft was stalling and 10 seconds later, with the aircraft approximately 6 nautical miles away, radar contact was lost An extensive search was conducted yielding only aircraft debris. [Almost certainly A-4C 148527, which was stricken on this date, assigned to VA-125] I was still CO of 125 .... approaching the date for change of command ... don't recall any accident at the time, nor one even remotely as described here, and I'm certain I would recall since I would have had to write the AAR! There's a mistake somewhere.
June 30, 1969: The last Rough Raider A-4 Fleet Replacement Enlisted Maintenance training program was completed. More than 1200 enlisted Maintenance personnel were trained during VA-125's "Skyhawk Era".
September 25, 1969: The Rough Raiders started to receive the Vought A-7A and A-7B Corsair II.
November 1969: The squadron began to develop the required training program for the Light Attack Weapons School. In December 1969 the Rough Raiders in conjunction with VA-122, inaugurated a graduate level course for the Light Attack Weapons School that involved all phases of attack aviation.
January 1970: The first A-7 Fleet Replacement Enlisted Maintenance and Fleet Replacement Pilot classes began.
February 28, 1970: Lt. Brad L. Knickerbocker, 28, ejected before his NAS Lemoore VA-125 jet (TA-4F BuNo 154320) crashed and burned east of Fresno, CA. Nevada State Journal, Saturday, 28 February 1970.
March 12, 1970 A TA-4B (sic) jet trainer was destroyed Thursday when the tow cable from a CH-47 helicopter which was towing it from NAAS Fallon broke and it dropped about 200 feet onto a farmers field. The helicopter had just taken off to tow the trainer to Sharpe Army Depot at Lathrop, CA, for structural repairs. Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada), Friday, 13 March 1970.
October 1, 1977: VA-125 was disestablished. The Rough Raiders had trained more than 700 A-7 A/B/C Corsair II replacement pilots and 5,500 maintenance personnel. The end of the Vietnam war caused a reduction in force that eventually led to the Rough Raider's disestablishment.
November 13, 1980: FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON ONE TWENTY-FIVE was established at NAS Lemoore with a mission of training Navy and Marine Corps fighter and attack pilots to fly the Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. VFA-125 was also tasked with training Navy and Marine Corps maintenance personnel. The commanding officer was a naval officer and the executive officer a Marine Corps officer. VA-125 once again adopted the moniker of Rough Raiders.
April 1981: The first Rough Raider F/A-18 Hornet arrived when VX-4 transferred Hornet number F-11, after completing the F/A-18 fleet evaluation process.
June 1981: VFA-125's officers, along with the F/A-18, participated in the Paris Air Show.
August 1982" The Rough Raiders achieved a "Ready for Training" status and VMFA-314 became the first squadron to begin transition training in the F/A-18.
September 1982: The Rough Raider's first carrier qualification detachment began operations aboard USS Constellation CV 64.
March 1983: Training began for the first Navy squadron to transition to the F/A-18.
March 1985: VFA-125 amassed 30,000 mishap free Hornet flight hours. The squadron routinely conducted strike and fighter detachments to Naval Air Facility El Centro, California and NAS Fallon, NV, as well as aboard carriers in both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets.
1995: The "Rough Raiders" attained 50,000 mishap-free flight hours.
May 1996: VFA-125 celebrated 70,000 mishap free Hornet flight hours in the Hornet and was presented the CNO Aviation Safety Award.
June 1997: The Rough Raiders surpassed 90,000 mishap free flight hours.
January 1998: The Rough Raiders were the first Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) to surpass 100,000 mishap free flight hours.
September 2000: VFA 125 averaged 1,500 flight hours monthly. State-of-the-art computer flight simulators supplement flight training and computer based academic instruction to enhance Hornet pilot understanding and performance. The Rough Raiders train approximately 120 pilots each year. Pilots are from the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, the Royal Air Force, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Spanish Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force, and Finnish Air Force.
Today: Instruction quality has always been a source of pride to the officers, men and women of ATTACK SQUADRON ONE TWENTY-FIVE and FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON ONE TWENTY-FIVE and STRIKE FIGHTER SQUADRON ONE TWENTY-FIVE and all other titles this squadron has held over the years. The Rough Raider Officers and Men continue to professionally pursue their challenging role to produce "The Best Jet Aviators in the World."
Another version of Rough Raider Command History.
1960: A-4C BuNo 145115, NJ-539, parked on the ramp next to BuNo 145077, NJ-5xx. Unknown photographer via W. Mutza
Circa 1961: CAPT H.M. Avery, CO of Lemoore, greets CDR O.L. Dauphin CO of VA-125, in "City of Lemoore" after first jet landing at new NAS. Naval Aviation News photo.
Rough Raiders Skyhawk NJ-562 on the ramp at left. VF-121 Demon BuNo 145254, NJ-140, in the foreground. John Campbell, G. Verver collection.
Left rear view of VA-125 Rough Riders A-4B Skyhawks BuNo 142140, NJ-582, and BuNo 142826 on the ramp at Sioux City, IA between 17 Dec 1963 and 8 May 1964.
1962-63: Rough Raiders Skyhawk formation, BuNo 145093, NJ-541, BuNo 148490, NJ-546 and two other unidentified Scooters. Navy photo via Tom Pispo.
1960-61: Rough Riders Skyhawk BuNo 147722, NJ-536, seconds from touchdown. Douglas photo.
1960-61: Rough Raiders Skyhawk BuNo 147673, NJ-538, on the compass wheel. Douglas / Navy photo.
JAN 1962: BuNo142108, probably being "off-loaded" from CVA-34 after a maintenance issue during a VA-125 sortie to that ship. VA-125 was not deployed, CVA-34 was on the west coast at this time, and thus the conjection on it being off-loaded, etc. Unknown photographer.
Nov 1962 Skyhawk BuNo 139953 after its last flight to NAS Lemoore for use in ground training. Pilot LT E.S. Fitch turns #115 over to VA-125 CO CDR James A. Porter who 1st flew 139953 in 1957 on its 1st fleet flight. Naval Aviation News Photo.
1962-63: BuNo.148490 Rough Raiders Skyhawk formation, BuNo 145093, NJ-541, BuNo 148490, NJ-546 and two other unidentified Scooters. Courtesy of Tom Bispo.
Unknown Rough Raiders pilots pose in front of Skyhawk 147771, NJ-558. Skyhawk 144875 is at left in the photo. Photo by W.A. Lacy.
August 1963: A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 147673, NJ-538, parked on the flight line. Photo by Clay Jansson via Tailhook Association.
1963-1964: VA-125 A-4C BuNo. 149505 - Rough Raider pilot Lieutenant Ken Holthaus is flying A-4C Skyhawk BuNo. 149505 side number NJ 548 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, California to Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada for Detachment work. Photograph by and from Whizzer White.
1965-1966: A-4E Skyhawk BuNo unknown, NJ-500, NAS Lemoore, 1965-1966. Name below the canopy rail is Cdr. J.A. Endacott, Commanding. At left are TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152853, NJ-004, and A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 144937, NJ-581. Official U.S. Navy photo
1965: My father LTJG Dale Palmer took these while transitioning to the A-4 in early 1965. Dennis Palmer.
1965: BuNo.149660 in 1965. VA-125 Skyhawks in formation, from bottom to top: A-4E BuNo 149660, NJ-506, A-4E NJ-510, A-4E NJ-519 and NJ-522. Photo by W.A. Lacy via Sean Keenan.
July 1965: A-4C Skyhawk left echelon formation over the runway L-r BuNo 147834, NJ-540, BuNo 148450, NJ-551, BuNo 145092, NJ-542, and BuNo 149505, NJ-548. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1966: Rough Raiders Skyhawk flight line, l-r: BuNo 148435; unknown BuNo; BuNo 150599, NJ-570; BuNo 148527, NJ-554 and BuNo 149961 NJ-515. Douglas Aircraft photo.
1966: A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 150581, NJ-553, NAS Lemoore. Official U.S. Navy photo.
Circa SEP 1966: Douglas A-4 Deputy Mgr. W.E. McKee, VA-125 CO CDR Jack A. Endacott, Douglas Aircraft Div. Dir. R.F. Canady and Douglas Plant Mgr. J.P. Robinson pose by prototype A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152101. Note that the Foxtrot's avionics hump is not yet installed. Naval Aviation News photo.
07 October 1966: A-4C Skyhawk NJ-555, in-flight with MK-81 slicks on MER's. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1966-1967: TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152855, NJ-006, NAS Lemoore. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1966-1968: A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 144937, NJ-581, NAS Lemoore. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1967: A group of VA-125 Fleet Replacement Pilots pose around BuNo 142922 NJ-584. United States Navy photograph from Gary "Buck" Rodgers.
Circa 1967: Group shot of the different Skyhawk verisons that operated at NAS Lemoore with VA-125. From left to right: A-4A BuNo 139927, NJ-307; A-4B BuNo 145024, NJ-583; A-4C BuNo 148450, NJ-546; A-4E BuNo 149998; an A-4F and a TA-4F. Photo from J.J. Stegman, via daughter Diane Stegman.
1967-1969: TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154313, NJ-017, unknown location. Official U.S. Navy photo
1968: Left rear view of VA-125 Rough Riders TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152857, NJ-009, on the ramp, NAS Lemoore, circa 1968. Copyright R.W. Harrison.
15 April 1968: VA-125 Rough Raiders right echelon formation Top to bottom A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 144875, NJ-578, A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 148435, NJ-550, A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149995, NJ-514, A-4F Skyhawk 155024, NJ-041, TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154329, NJ-027, and A-1E Skyraider BuNo 132435, NJ-598. Official U.S. Navy photo.
01 May 1968: Left echelon formation L-r: A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 144875, NJ-578, A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 148435, NJ-550, A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149995, NJ-514, A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 155024, NJ-041, and TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154329, NJ-027. Official U.S. Navy photo
1968: VA-125 in-flight Rough Raiders formation of TA-4J BuNo 154329, NJ-027, A-4F NJ-041, A-4E BuNo 149995, NJ-514, A-4C BuNo 148435, NJ-550 and A-4B BuNo 144075, NJ-578 over the Sierras. Official U.S. Navy photo by PHO H. Estes provided by Richard E. Dellwo.
1968-69: 1968-69: Three VA-125 TA-4F Skyhawks on the ramp. Left to right; BuNo 152853, NJ-004, BuNo 152864, NJ-015, and BuNo 152854, NJ-005, NAS Lemoore, 1968-1968. Photo from Boom Powell.
JAN-SEP68: A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 151052, NJ-516, speed brakes out, gear and flaps down, unknown carrier. Official U.S. Navy photo.
"Boom" Powell standing on the wing of Rough Raiders Skyhawk BuNo 150074, NJ-504. Photo from "Boom".
TA-4J BuNo 154329, NJ-027, A-4F NJ-041, A-4E BuNo 149995, NJ-514, A-4C BuNo 148435, NJ-550 and A-4B BuNo 144075, NJ-578 over the Sierras. Chuck Wolf.
APR69: The "Keep 'em Up" guys of VA125. Back row left to right....Larry Garroute (spelling?), Tom Holton, Gerry LaFrance, Dick Kiehl, Bob Doering, Warren Batze, Mark Pelligrino. Front row: left to right.....Don Robertshaw, Mike Brannon, Bob Kemper, Al Smith, Bill Carnley, Steve MacMillan. Photograph from Steve MacMillan.
VA-125 Rough Raiders Skyhawks, NAS Lemoore, between July 1966 and October 1966. Front row l-r: A-4A NJ-043; A-4B BuNo 144913, NJ-585; TA-4F BuNo 152864, NJ-013; A-4C BuNo 148449, NJ-565; and A-4E BuNo 149966, NJ-517. Middle row l-r: A-4C BuNo 148435, NJ-550; A-4E NJ-5xx; A-4C BuNo 150599 NJ-570; A-4C BuNo 148527, NJ-554; A-4E BuNo 149961, NJ-515; A-4E NJ-525; A-4C BuNo 148438, NJ-556; A-4C BuNo 147701, NJ-537; A-4C BuNo 147810, NJ-532; and A-4C BuNo 145093, NJ-541. Far row with tails to the camera l-r; TA-4F BuNo 152862, NJ-012; A-4E BuNo 150074, NJ-504; unknown TA-4F; TA-4F BuNo 152852; NJ-003; A-4E NJ-5xx, TA-4F BuNo 152860, NJ-010; TA-4F BuNo 152850, NJ-001; TA-4F BuNo 152851, NJ-002; and A-1E Skyraider BuNo 132435, NJ-599. Douglas photos from Gary Verver Collection.
FEB 1979: NJ-517 parked on the line near A-4C BuNo 145093. Douglas Photo
FEB 1979: NJ-525 parked on the line next to NJ-556. Douglas Photo
FEB 1979: NJ-001 and NJ-002. Douglas Photo
FEB 1979: NJ-003 parked on the ramp. Douglas Photo
FEB 1979: NJ-010 parked on the ramp next a A-4E. Douglas Photo.
FEB 1979: NJ-012 parked on the ramp next A-4E BuNo 150074. Dougalas Photo.
FEB 1979: Rough Riders Skyhawk NJ-013 parked on the ramp next Rough Raiders A-4B BuNo NJ-585. Dougalas Photo
JAN 1989: Left side view of VA-125 Rough Raiders TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152863 , NJ-014, parked on the ramp at NAS Lemoore. Photo by A. Hanson.
A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit: