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Black Diamonds - 1956 - 1970
Black Diamonds Insignia 1963
Patch from Paul Galanti Collection
Harry S. Gann
Warren A. Harms
1956 -1970: Black Diamonds
30 MAR 1955: VA-216 established.
01 AUG 1970: VA-216 dis-established.
30 MAR 1955 - - - Naval Air Station Moffett Field
SEP 1961: - - - - Naval Air Station Lemoore
01 AUG 1968 - - - Naval Air Station Alameda
APR 1955 - - - Douglas AD-4 Skyraider.
APR 1955 - - - Douglas AD-4NA Skyraider.
MAY 1955 - - - Douglas AD-5 Skyraider.
JUL 1955 - - - Douglas AD-4B Skyraider.
OCT 1956 - - - Douglas AD-7 Skyraider.
JUL 1958 - - - Douglas AD-6 Skyraider.
10 FEB 1959: - Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk *
01 JUL 1959: - North American FJ-4B Fury.
18 JUL 1963: - Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk *
31 AUG 1966: - Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk *
13 JUN 1969: - Douglas A4D-5 (A-4E) Skyhawk *
7 MAY 1969 - - Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk.
* November 30, 1962
The A4D-2 designation was changed to A-4B
The A4D-2N designation was changed to A-4C
The A4D-5 designation was changed to A-4E
For A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit see lower in this page:
30 MAR 1955: - - - Z*/ND** - - - - - ATG-4
01 JUL 1959: - - - NP - - - - - - - CVG-21
01 SEP 1966: - - - COMFAIRALAMEDA
01 FEB 1967: - - - AC - - - - - - - CVW-3
09 DEC 1967: - - - COMFAIRALAMEDA
1968: - - - - - - - **** - - - - - - CVW-15
1969: - - - - - - - AA - - - - - - - CVW-17
* The tail code Z for Air Task Group 4 (ATG-4) was assigned on July 24, 1956.
** The tail code was changed from Z to ND in July 1957.
*** ATG-4 was disestablished on January 19, 1959. VA-216 was assigned to CVG-21 on July 1, 1959 but was not an active part of the Air Group until its return from deployment in December 1959.
**** VA-216 probably joined CVW-15 upon the air wing's return from its deployment in April 1968.
19 MAR 56 to 13 SEP 56: ATG-4- - CVA 10 - AD-4B/NA - WestPac
06 JAN 58 to 02 JUL 58: ATG-4- - CVA 12 - AD-7 - WestPac
21 AUG 58 to 12 JAN 59: ATG-4- - CVA 20 - AD-6 - WestPac
29 OCT 60 to 06 JUN 61: CVG-21 - CVA 16 - FJ-4B- WestPac
02 FEB 62 to 24 AUG 62: CVG-21 - CVA 19 - FJ-4B- WestPac
07 JUN 63 to 16 DEC 63: CVG-21 - CVA 19 - A-4C - WestPac
21 OCT 64 to 29 MAY 65: CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4C - WestPac/Vietnam
10 NOV 65 to 01 AUG 66: CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4C - WestPac/Vietnam
01 MAY 67 to 06 DEC 67: CVW-3- - CVA 60 - A-4B - Med
07 SEP 68 to 18 APR 69: CVW-15 - CVA 43 - A-4C - WestPac/Vietnam
02 DEC 69 to 08 JUL 70: CVW-17 - CVA 59 - A-4E - Med
30 MAR 1955: - CDR Frank W. Ault
SEP 1956 - - - CDR Hope Strong, Jr.
13 FEB 1959: - CDR W. E. Payne, Jr.
01 JUL 1959: - CDR L. F. Baumgaertel
09 OCT 1959: - CDR M. E. Stewart
05 JUL 1961: - CDR T. M. Smyer
02 DEC 1961: - CDR R. W. Galt (acting)
06 JAN 1962: - CDR G. W. Bailey
31 DEC 1962: - CDR J. R. Anderson
10 NOV 1963: - CDR J. W. Miller
07 NOV 1964: - CDR R. E. Schwoeffermann
OCT 1965 - - - CDR Carl Birdwell, Jr.
21 OCT 1966: - CDR Robert S. Moore
10 OCT 1967: - CDR James J. Tyson
17 DEC 1968: - CDR James B. Busey IV
19 SEP 1969: - CDR Roger A. Massey, Jr.
Navy Expeditionary Medal
July 1, 1957 to June 30, 1958
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
December 15, 1960 to December 24, 1960
January 1, 1961 to January 8, 1961
March 10, 1962 to March 14, 1962
April 14, 1962 to April 16, 1962
May 16, 1962 to May 18, 1962
November 4, 1963 to November 10, 1963
December 7, 1964 to May 4, 1965
Navy Unit Commendation
December 6, 1965 to July 25, 1966
October 10, 1968 to March 31, 1969
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
December 26, 1965
December 28, 1965 to December 31, 1965
January 2, 1966 to January 4, 1966
January 9, 1966
January 15, 1966 to January 19, 1966
February 25, 1966 to February 26, 1966
February 28, 1966 to March 5, 1966
April 1, 1966 to April 2, 1966
May 25, 1966
June 24, 1966
June 27, 1966 to June 29, 1966
October 15, 1968
October 17, 1968 to October 18, 1968
October 21, 1968
October 25, 1968 to October 27, 1968
November 14, 1968 to November 16, 1968
November 23, 1968
November 25, 1968
December 1, 1968 to December 2, 1968
December 4, 1968 to December 5, 1968
December 30, 1968
January 1, 1969 to January 3, 1969
January 5 1969
January 7, 1969 to January 10, 1969
January 14, 1969 to January 19, 1969
January 22, 1969
January 24, 1969
January 26, 1969
February 9, 1969 to February 20, 1969
February 22, 1969 to March 3, 1969
March 19, 1969 to March 31, 1969
Vietnam Service Medal
December 17, 1965 to January 23, 1966
February 11, 1966 to March 6, 1966
March 21, 1966 to April 10, 1966
April 27, 1966 to July 9, 1966
December 29, 1968 to January 30, 1969
February 8, 1969 to March 3, 1969
March 19, 1969 to March 30, 1969
30 MAR 1955: Attack Squadron TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN (VA-216) established at Naval Air Station Moffett Field. The Black Diamonds were assigned the Douglas AD-4 Skyraider.
19 MAR to 13 SEP 1956: VA-216 flying the Douglas AD-4 Skyraider deployed with ATG-4 aboard USS Yorktown CVA 10 to cruise the western Pacific seas.
MAY 1955: The Black Diamonds were assigned the Douglas AD-5 Skyraider.
06 JAN to 02 JUL 1958: VA-216 flying the Douglas AD-7 Skyraider deployed with ATG-4 aboard USS Hornet CVA 12 to cruise the western Pacific seas.
21 AUG 1958 to 12 JAN 1959: VA-216 flying the Douglas AD-6 Skyraider deployed with ATG-4 aboard USS Bennington CVA 20 to cruise the western Pacific seas.
SEP 1958: VA-216, embarked in Bennington, operated in the Formosa Straits during the Chinese Communist shelling of Quemoy and Matsu.
16 FEB 1959: The Black Diamonds were assigned the Douglas A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk.
01 JUL 1959: The Commander of the Naval Air Force in the Pacific reorganized VA-216 and VA-192 by swapping aircraft and personnel. Normally this would be accomplished by redesignating the two squadrons but in a weird display of administration, VA-192 commanding officer, Cdr. Baumgaertel, became the Commanding Officer of VA-216 and all other personnel assigned to VA-192 were reassigned to VA-216. Likewise the CO of VA-216 and all other VA-216 personnel were reassigned to VA-192; the two squadron's aircraft were swapped thus the squadron was assigned the North American FJ-4B Fury.
29 OCT 1960 to 06 JUN 1961: VA-216 flying the North American FJ-4B Fury deployed with CVG-21 aboard USS Lexington CVA 16 to cruise the western Pacific.
02 FEB to 24 AUG 1962: VA-216 flying the North American FJ-4B Fury deployed with CVG-21 aboard USS Hancock CVA 19 to cruise the western Pacific.
APR 1962: VA-216 flying from Hancock, operated off the coast of South Vietnam during the arrival of the first USMC advisor unit in the Republic of Vietnam.
04 SEP 1962: The Black Diamonds were assigned the Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk.
07 JUN to 16 DEC 1963: VA-216 flying the Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk deployed with CVG-21 aboard USS Hancock CVA 19 to cruise the western Pacific.
NOV 1963: Embarked in USS Hancock CVA 19, the Black Diamonds flew the A-4C Skyhawk as they did throughout the war. The Hancock operated off the coast of South Vietnam following the coup that overthrew President Diem.
21 OCT 1964 to 29 MAY 1965: VA-216 flying the Douglas A-4C Skyhawk deployed with CVW-21 aboard USS Hancock CVA 19 to combat in WestPac/Vietnam.
29 DEC 1964 to MAY 1965: VA-216 participated in Yankee Team operations, armed reconnaissance flights over Laos, and Barrel Roll operations, armed reconnaissance and strike missions in eastern Laos covering the infiltration routes used by the Communists.
30 DEC 1964: Lt. Frank Scot Crismon was killed last night when his Skyhawk (BuNo. 149625) crashed into the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Hancock in The South China sea and exploded on contact with the end of the flight deck. Lowell Sun, Thursday, 31 December 1964 and Pacific Stars & Stripes, Friday, Jan. 1, 1965. U.S., Vietnam War Military Casualties, 1956-1998, Lt. Frank Scot Crismon, VA-216, USS Hancock, 31 December 1964. Hit the rounddown after 8 passes and crashed with the cockpit coming to rest near the island. I knew him as he was in the A-4 outfit (VA-216). John C. Black, pilot from VA-215, 28 February 2013.
07 FEB 1965: VA-216 participated in Flaming Dart I operations, striking the Dong Hoi Barracks. These reprisal attacks against targets in North Vietnam were in response to the shelling of an American advisors compound at Pleiku by the Viet Cong.
11 FEB 1965: The Black Diamonds participated in Flaming Dart II operations, reprisal attacks against the barracks at Chanh Hoa, North Vietnam.
March to May 1965: VA-216 engaged in the Rolling Thunder campaign, strikes against designated military targets in North Vietnam.
03 March 1965: Lt. Thomas F. Mineau, VA-216, is listed as missing after his A4D Skyhawk (BuNo 149612) crashed during a training exercise off Manila while attempting an instrument landing aboard the USS Hancock. The Fresno Bee The Republican, Friday, March 5, 1965, Page 27. A search was being conducted Friday for a U.S. Navy A4C Skyhawk assigned to VA-216. It is believed to have crashed at sea while making a landing approach to the USS Hancock Thursday night. Pacific Stars and Stripes, Saturday, March 6, 1965. During what appeared to be a normal approach to the ship, radio and radar contact was lost with the aircraft when it was 12 miles from the ship.
03 April 1965: LCdr. Raymond Arthur Vohden ejected and was captured after he was hit by small arms fire during an attack on a bridge at Dong Phuong Thong. LtCdr. Raymond A. Vohden was north of the Dragon when his A4C bomber was shot down. Ray was captured by the North Vietnamese and held in various POW camps in and near Hanoi until his release in February 1973. (It is not entirely clear that this U.S. Navy Lt.Cdr. had a direct role in the attack on the bridge, but was probably "knocked out" by the same anti-aircraft fire.) POW Network.
10 NOV 1965 to 01 AUG 1966: VA-216 flying the Douglas A-4C Skyhawk deployed with CVW-21 aboard USS Hancock CVA 19 to combat in WestPac/Vietnam.
MAR 1966: VA-216 participated in Operation Jackstay, providing close air support for the amphibious operations that cleared the Rung Sat zone, the river channels, southeast of Saigon.
01 May 1966: Lt. C.O. Tolbert was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during a combat mission over North Vietnam involving the Xom Dom Dien supply area and the sighting of a SAM missile battery which was destroyed in a later mission.
21 May 1966: LCdr. O.F. Baldwin ejected near the Hancock and was rescued when he couldn't lower the starboard landing gear due to fire damage sustained after an attack on a cargo barge near Phong Bai. 1725 O.F. Baldwin, LTCMDR, ejected from his plane and was rescued by ships helo. Pilot was reported to be uninjured. 1721 (late entry) LCDR Baldwin of VA-216 ejected from A4C 690 BuNo 148473. 1722 A4C 690 crashed into the sea two (2) miles off the port bow at Lat. 18-41.8 N, Long. 107-16.0E and sunk in thirty five (35) fathoms of water. 1728 (late entry) LCDR Baldwin recovered by helo number six (6). 1732 (late entry) Recovered helo number six (6) with LCDR Baldwin aboard. 1823 Medical Department reported LCDR Baldwin received no injuries. USS Hancock deck log, 21 May 1966.
Paul Galanti aboard the USS Hancock in 1965.
Paul Galanti is the "POW Contact Person" for the Skyhawk Association. His web site.
04 July 1966: LCdr. O.F. Baldwin ejected (BuNo 149616, NP 688) and was rescued by a Navy helicopter 25 NE of Mu Ron Ma when his engine disintegrated after he was hit by AAA as he pulled up from an attack on a bridge 5 miles S of Mu Ron Ma .
07 July 1966: LCdr. William J. Isenhour ejected (BuNo 148456, NP 685) and was rescued by a Navy helicopter after he was hit in the cockpit and engine by AAA during a POL storage system at Haiphong.
07 July 1966: The Black Diamonds's commanding officer, Cdr. Carl Birdwell, was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in a strike against the Haiphong POL storage area.
08 July 1966: Lt. Paul Haglund ejected safely at 4,000 feet and was rescued after a bomb dropped off his aircraft on the cat shot and bounced repeatedly into the aircraft. Within seconds the fire light illuminated and he lost the primary attitude indicator, oxygen system and both hydraulic systems. 0110 Plane reported in the water at 18-06 North, 107-20 East in forty (40) fathoms of water. Pilot is LT Paul Haglund of VA-216. Aircraft is an A4C Skyhawk Bureau Number 149494, Aircraft Number 683. 0129 Helo #37 recovered pilot. Pilot in good condition. USS Hancock deck log, 08 July 1966.
02 MAY to 06 DEC 1967: VA-216 flying the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk deployed with CVW-3 aboard USS Saratoga CVA 60 to cruise the Mediterranean.
"Whereas VA-216 had been flying the A-4C, they reverted to the A-4B for the cruise aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60) in 1967. I initially had orders to VA-93 upon arrival for FRAMP training at VA-125, NAS Lemoore, CA. Because VA-93 was returning from a WESTPAC and VA-216 was preparing to deploy, my orders were changed. I served initially as a plane captain (buddy store captain) from April 1967 until August 1967. Upon returning to NAS Lemoore in December 1967, the squadron transitioned back to the A-4C for our upcoming WESTPAC aboard USS Coral Sea." Ron Jones AT1 (AW), USN (RET)
07 SEP 1968 to 18 APR 1969: VA-216 flying the Douglas A-4C Skyhawk deployed with CVW-15 aboard USS Coral Sea CVA 43 to combat in WestPac/Vietnam.
21 NOV 1968: Cdr. Marvin Joel Naschek was killed when his Skyhawk (BuNo 148608) lost altitude after launch and crashed. 0433 (hours) Aircraft crashed into the sea following launch, bearing about 070, distance about 1,500 yds., position 17-29N, 108.07E. 0434 Detached USS Tucker (DD-875) to commence search for the pilot. Detached USS Decatur (DDG-31) to assist in the search. USS Coral Sea deck log, Thursday, 21 November 1968.
03 JAN 1969: Lt(jg). R.M. Aaron (BuNo 147764, NL 610) was shot down over southern Laos while on a Steel Tiger mission. As he was pulling up from a bomb run on a 37mm gun position near Thakkapang, 20 miles NE of Muang Fangdeng he felt the engine begin to vibrate. He crossed the coast near Chu Lai and ejected 10 miles off the coast when the engine failed. He was rescued by a USMC helicopter.
14 February 1969: Lt(jg). Larry James Stevens (BuNo. 149529 NL 607 ) was killed while accompanying an Intruder on a night interdiction mission over the Ho Chi Minh trail in southern Laos with LCdr. J.F. Meehan. As the three aircraft headed west near Ban Kate at 12,000 feet. LCdr. Meehan saw AAA fire moments before his aircraft was rocked by two massive explosions and Lt(jg). Stevens aircraft crashed into the ground and exploded.
14 February 1969: LCdr. J.F. Meehan ejected safely when his Skyhawk (BuNo 148547, NL 601) was damaged by the explosion of A-4C BuNo 149529 while accompanying an Intruder on a night interdiction mission over the Ho Chi Minh trail in southern Laos with Lt(jg). Larry James Stevens. As the three aircraft headed west near Ban Kate at 12,000 feet. LCdr. Meehan saw AAA fire moments before his aircraft was rocked by two massive explosions and Lt(jg). Stevens aircraft crashed into the ground and exploded. LCdr. Meehan flew his damaged aircraft until he reached the coast and ejected about 20 miles off Hue and was rescued by a USAF SAR helicopter.
02 DEC 1969 to 08 AUG 1970: VA-216 flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk deployed with CVW-17 aboard USS Forrestal, CVA 59, to cruise the Mediterranean.
01 AUG 1970: Attack Squadron TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN (VA-216) dis-established.
VA-216 A-4B, BuNo 142130, refueling a VF-31 Phantom, BuNo 151495. From Gary Verver Collection.
1963: BuNo 149614 of the Black Diamonds on patrol over the South China Sea. Home is the USS Hancock deployed with CVG-21 which included VA-212 with her A-4Bs. Photo taken by VA-216 Pilot and provided by John Graham.
1964 All Centurions; Black Diamonds pilots pose in front of Skyhawk BuNo 149626 aboard the Hanna after the last pilot in the squadron qualified as a Centurion. Naval Aviation News Photo.
1965-66: the maintenance crew pose in front of Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo149583, NP-687. Larry Crotts - Larry is second from the left in the front row. He served as an AO-3 until a 500 pounder fell on his right hand.
NOV65-OCT66: Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 148442, NP-694, manned and ready aboard the Hanna. VA-212 Golden Dragons BuNo 152044, NP-231, is between 694 and VF-211 Crusader NP-101. G. Bragg.
NOV65-OCT66: Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 148442, NP-694, waiting its turn behind BuNo 149583 on the port cat. VA-212 Rampant Raiders NP-228 is in the foreground behind Black Diamonds BuNo 147835, NP-684. G. Bragg
NOV 1965: Paul Galanti and Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 148442, NP-694, topside on the USS Hancock at Pearl Harbor. Paul Galanti.
1967: VA-216 A-4B BuNo 142700, AC-612, refuels an EA-3B Skywarrior attack aircraft of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2). Both squadrons are part of CVW-3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60) during her 1967 Mediterranean deployment. Photo courtesy of Bob Lawson.
1965-66: BuNo 148576, NP-681, assigned to CDR Tex Birdwell parked on the ramp. Plane Captain is ADJ-3 J.O. Frederick. Jim Brady.
1966 BuNo 149610, NP-611 and BuNo 149616, NP-608, in formation. Naval Aviation News Photo.
Black Diamond BuNo. 147765, side number NP 691 on the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 port catapult ready to launch. Black & white United States Navy photograph.
18MAR67: BuNo 144966, AC-00, tail section. Clay Jansson via Tailhook Association.
1967: Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 144943, AC-697, aboard the Sara. VF-103 F-4B Phantom BuNo 150442 at upper right and VA-216 Skyhawk AC-610 at lower left. Unknown Photographer via W. Mutza.
1968: BuNo 147698, NL-605, and BuNo 149529, NL-607, over Yankee Station. CAPT D.L. Clarke.
DEC 1968: Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 145106, NL-613, parked on the ramp. Assigned pilot is LT Winkler and the p/c is AME3 Bucko. Drop tanks are marked VA-153. Nick Williams.
11DEC68: A-4C Skyhawk BuNo. 147834, side number NL 602 was assigned to VA-216 Black Diamonds on the United States Ship Coral Sea CVA 43. It was photographed by Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan while landing at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan.
VA-216 Drivers: Taken aboard Coral Sea during our 1968-69 Westpac cruise. Left to right: Brad Knickerbocker, Wayne Fairbanks, Cliff Klingler, and John Paron. We're about to lay waste to some inconsequential stretch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, flying A-4Cs with 500-pounders. Courtesy of Brad Knickerbocker, Ashland Oregon.
Blue Tail Flies and Black Diamonds Skyhawks from L-r: VA-153 NL-304 & NL-302, VA-216 NL-605, NL-601, NL-610 & NL-612 and VA-153 NL-315. Gary Verver Collection.
1968-69: Black Diamonds Skyhawk BuNo 148609, NL-611, assigned to CDR Jim Tyson behind a group photo of the squadron pilots. Right side view of VA-216 Black Diamonds A-4C Skyhawk BuNo 148609, NL-611, assigned to Cdr. Jim Tyson behind a group photo of the squadron pilots aboard the USS Coral Sea. Capt. Douglas L. Clarke standing 6th from right, CO Cdr. James Tyson, front row. Unknown Photographer via W. Mutza.
15 January 1970: Members of The British Royal Air Force inspect VA-216 Black Diamonds A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 152019, AA-405, while visiting the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) at Marsaxlokk, Malta. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1970 Med: Black Diamonds Skyhawk AA-414 (BuNo unknown) on the right and Road Runners Skyhawk BuNo 148587 on the left. Gary Verver.
FEB 1988: VF-126 A-4E BuNo 150110, grey on grey camouflage paint scheme at NAS Miramar. Copyright Joe Cupido.
The Y2002 VA-216 Black Diamond reunion was held in conjunction with the NavAirMuseum's Annual Symposium. Paul Galanti.
2005: A-4C 148543 arrives at Virgina Aviation Museum, Richmond VA. BuNo. 148543 will be displayed as 148442, VA-216 NP-694 to honor Paul Galanti (right), former Skyhawk pilot and POW. From "Boom" Powell.
29 APR 2006: A-4C BuNo 148543, 29 APR 2006 restored as VA-216 BuNo 148442, NP-694 to honor Paul Galanti, former Skyhawk pilot and POW. "Boom" Powell.
JUN 2006: Nick Monopoli in BuNo 148543 cockpit restored as BuNo 148442. Picture taken at the dedication ceromony at the musuem where it ws restored with VA-216 colors. Paul attended the event. Nick Monopoli.
A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit: