The squadron's first insignia was approved by CNO  on 16 July 1956. Colors for the torch insignia were: a light blue background  outlined in dark blue; the shield was outlined in white stars on a dark blue  field; the outer thunderbolt was international orange and the inner one was light blue; white mailed fist with black markings; yellow torch with black  markings and a bright red flame; white atomic clouds with blue borders and  markings. The scroll had a white background outlined in dark blue with dark blue lettering. The squadron's second insignia was approved by CNO on 3 January 1974. Colors for the insignia were: a dark blue background and scroll outlined in black and white; white stars and lettering; blue mailed fist is outlined in  white; and an orange lightning bolt. Nickname: Thunderbolts,  1955-1992.

Command  History

Significant Events of the 50's

According to CDR Urey W. Patrick, who was CO of VA176 1958-1959, VA176 was part of the Airwing deployed on USS Essex (then CVA-9) to the Med. They flew close air support for the Marines during the Marine landings in Lebanon in 1958. According to CDR Urey they went in at 50 feet as a show of force, until bullet holes started appearing in the undersides, mostly lead balls fired from muzzleloaders carried by sheep-herders who had no idea who they were or why they were flying by. They changed their altitudes to keep them out of muzzle-loading musket range. Following the Lebanon crisis of 1958, Essex was re-deployed to a global circumnavigation. They went through Suez, Red Sea, visited ports around the Indian Ocean, WestPac,
then passed through Panama returning to their homeport Mayport, Florida.


Significant Events of the 60's

14 Nov-8 Dec 1960: Following a request from  Guatemala and Nicaragua, a Navy patrol was established off the coast of these Central American countries to prevent infiltration by communists from Cuba. The  squadron operated from Shangri-La (CVA 38) until 25 November when it conducted a  complete transfer of aircraft and personnel from Shangri-La to Wasp (CVA 18) while underway. It remained on station aboard Wasp until 8 December. 2-19 June  1961: Following the assassination of Dominican Republic's dictator, General Rafael Trujillo, the squadron operated from Shangri-La off the coast of that  country until the domestic situation began to stabilize. May 1963: The squadron  operated from Shanri-La in the Caribbean during the period of unrest in Haiti and the civil strife with the Dominican Republic. Aug 1965: Squadron aircraft  were used in Operation Pinwheel on several occasions while Shangri-La was moored  at Naples, Italy. The aircraft were secured to the deck of the carrier and the  thrust from their propellers were used to help prevent the ship, which was  undergoing repairs, from breaking out of her mooring during bad weather and high winds. 4 Apr 1966: VA-176 deployed to Vietnam as a component of CVW-10 embarked  on Intrepid (CVS 11). This was the first all attack air wing formed and the first to deploy. Two squadrons were flying the A-1 Skyraider and the A-4 Skyhawk. 15 May 1966: Flying from Dixie Station, the squadron conducted its  first combat sorties, flying strikes against insurgent forces in the Republic of  Vietnam. 9 Oct 1966: While flying a rescue combat air patrol mission, four  squadron aircraft engaged four North Vietnamese Mig's. Lieutenant (jg) William T. Patton shot down one of Mig-17s during the engagement. This was the first and only shoot down of an enemy jet aircraft by a propeller driven plane during the  Vietnam Conflict. For the action, Lieutenant (jg) Patton was awarded the Silver  Star. 8 Jun 1967: When Israeli forces attacked Liberty (AGTR 5), four squadron aircraft were launched from Saratoga (CVA 60) and ordered to proceed to the ship  and defend it. Shortly after their launch the aircraft were recalled when Israel  apologized for the attack. Aug 1969: Squadron A-6A Intruders were used in operation Storm Fury 1969. The aircraft were used to seed Hurricane Debbie by flying sorties that penetrated the wall of the hurricane, flew through the eye and exited the wall again, at which time seeding chemicals were  dispensed.


Significant Events of the 70's

25 Sept 1970: VA-176 became the first fleet  squadron to operate the KA-6D tanker aircraft. Oct-Nov 1973: The squadron,  embarked on Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42), operated in the vicinity of Crete in  response to the Arab-Israeli war. Jun 1976: The American Ambassador to Lebanon was assassinated on 13 June and America (CV 66), with VA-176 embarked, operated  in the vicinity of Lebanon. Squadron aircraft flew support missions during the  evacuation of noncombatants from that country.


Significant Events of the 80's

May 1981: Independence (CV 62), with VA-176  embarked, following its transit of the Suez Canal, remained on station in the eastern Mediterranean due to the crisis between Israel and Syria following Israeli raids against Syrian surface-to-air missile in Lebanon. 25 Oct-1 Nov 1983: In response to continued political strife and the need to protect and  evacuate Americans from the island country of Granada, VA-176 aircraft flew combat close air support and reconnaissance sorties in support of operation Urgent Fury, the landing of U.S. Marines and Army rangers on the island. 4 Dec 1983: In response to hostile fire against U.S. reconnaissance aircraft from  Syrian positions in Lebanon, VA-176 aircraft participated in a coordinated  strike against Syrian radar, communications, and artillery positions overlooking  the Mult-National Peacekeeping Forces. All five of the squadron aircraft  completed their mission and returned safely the the carrier. Earnest Will  Missions, escort operations for Jun-Jul 1988: The squadron flew support for  reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers during the Iraq-Iranian War in the Persian  Gulf.


Significant Events of the 90's

Jun-Sep 1991: The squadron flew missions in support  of Operation Provide Comfort, supporting the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's mission to aid the Kurdish refugees in Iraq following the Gulf War. 30 Oct 1992: VA-176 disestablished.


There have been a total of 19 Commanding Officers of The Thunderbolts as an A-6 squadron.  The first was CDR John Davis in Aug ust 1969.  The last was CDR Lee Hawks in July  1991.