VA-23 - Black Knights
Point of Contact = Squadron Duty Officer (SDO). See FAQ/Research/Contact link under [SA] in the menu.
VF 653 Warrior Dragon - 1951
Drawn by Bud Southworth
VA-23 Black Knight - 1970
VF-653's "Warrior Dragon" patch was authorized February 7, 1951. The central figure is the "Warrior Dragon" symbolizing the terrifying qualities representative of a fighter squadron, and the shield portraying its strength.
A "Knight's Crest" patch was adopted by VF-151 Black Knights sometime in 1953 - 1954. This patch displays a knight's helmet mounted above a shield over a scroll bearing the Latin phrase "In Omnia Paratus" (always prepared). Under the patch was a scroll inscribed with FIGHTING ONE FIFTY ONE.
In 1956 the basic VF-151 "Knight's Crest" patch was modified by VA-151 Black Knights. This patch kept the basic VF-151 elements but the scroll under the patch was changed to read ATTACK SQUADRON 151.
In 1959 the basic VF-151 "Knight's Crest" patch was again modified by VA-23 Black Knights. This patch kept the basic VF-151 elements but the scroll under the patch was changed to read ATTACK SQUADRON 23. Over the years the shape of the helmet changed as did the plume colors and shape. A stylized final version of the VA-23 Black Knights patch is displayed above.
Robert J. Brozovich
Harry S. Gann
Tobey W. Morison
Howard C. Wolf Jr.
1949 to 1953 Dragons
1953 to 1970 Black Knights
December 1949, Reserve Fighter Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VF-653) Dragons established.
February 1, 1951, VF-653 Dragons were called to active duty.
February 4, 1953, VF-653 was re-designated as VF-151, Black Knights - Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE.
February 7, 1956, VF-151 was re-designated as VA-151, Black Knights - Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE.
February 23, 1959, VA-151 was re-designated as VA-23, Black Knights - Attack Squadron TWENTY THREE.
April 1, 1970, (April Fool's Day) VA-23, Black Knights - disestablished.
Date - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Location:
December 1949- - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Akron
April 16, 1951 - - - - - - - Naval Air Station Alameda
September 30, 1961 - - - - - Naval Air Station Lemoore
Date - - - - - - - - - - - - Tail code - - - - - - - Air Wing
April 5, 1951- - - - - - - - H - - - - - - CVG-15
August 3, 1951 - - - - - - - H - - - - - - ATG-1
July 3, 1952 - - - - - - - - H - - - - - - CVG-15
November 1, 1952 - - - - - - U/NA* - - - - ATG-1
February 24, 1959- - - - - - NE- - - - - - CVG-2/CVW-2 **
July 1, 1967 - - - - - - - - NM- - - - - - CVW-19
* The squadron deployed with ATG-1 but used its parent air group tail code (H) until the tail code "IJ" was assigned to ATG-1 on July 24, 1956. ATG-1's tail code was changed from U to NA July 1, 1957.
** December 20, 1963 - Carrier Air Groups were re-designated Carrier Air Wings (CVG-2 became CVW-2).
Date Type First Received - - - - - - Type of Aircraft:
Before February 1951- - - Goodyear FG-1D Corsair I
February 1951 - - - - - - North American SNJ Trainer
By May 1951 - - - - - - - Vought F4U-4 Corsair I
By August 1951- - - - - - Vought F4U-4B Corsair I
August 28, 1952 - - - - - Grumman F9F-2 Panther *
October 2, 1952 - - - - - Grumman F9F-5 Panther *
May 1955- - - - - - - - - Vought F7U-3M (Gutless) Cutlass
June 1955 - - - - - - - - Vought F7U-3 Cutlass
December 1956 - - - - - - Grumman F9F-8B Cougar *
January 1957- - - - - - - Grumman F9F-8 Cougar *
July 1957 - - - - - - - - North American FJ-4B Fury
May 18, 1960- - - - - - - Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk
December 26, 1962 - - - - Douglas A-4E Skyhawk
July 13, 1967 - - - - - - Douglas A-4F Skyhawk
Bby James C. Ritchie
* The F9F through the F9F-5 Panther have straight wings with tip tanks; the F9F-6 through the F9F-8 Cougar have swept wings.
For A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit see lower in this page:
10-12-51 to 07-03-52 - ATG-1- - CV 45- - F4U 4/4B - Western Pacific/Korea
03-30-53 to 11-28-53 - ATG-1- - CVA 21 - F9F-2- - - Western Pacific/Korea
09-01-54 to 04-11-55 - ATG-1- - CVA 18 - F9F-2- - - Western Pacific
05-25-56 to 12-20-56 - ATG-1- - CVA 16 - F7U-3- - - Western Pacific
10-04-58 to 02-16-59 - ATG-1- - CVA 14 - FJ-4B- - - Western Pacific
08-15-59 to 03-25-60 - CVG-2- - CVA 41 - FJ-4B- - - Western Pacific
02-16-61 to 09-28-61 - CVG-2- - CVA 41 - A4D-2- - - Western Pacific
04-06-62 to 10-20-62 - CVG-2- - CVA 41 - A4D-2- - - Western Pacific
11-08-63 to 05-26-64 - CVW-2- - CVA 41 - A-4E - - - Western Pacific
03-06-65 to 11-23-65 - CVW-2- - CVA 41 - A-4E - - - Western Pacific/Vietnam
07-29-66 to 02-23-67 - CVW-2- - CVA 43 - A-4E - - - Western Pacific/Vietnam
12-28-67 to 08-17-68 - CVW-19 - CVA 14 - A-4F - - - Western Pacific/Vietnam
04-14-69 to 11-17-69 - CVW-19 - CVA 34 - A-4F - - - Western Pacific/Vietnam
Date Assumed Command - - - - - - - Commanding Officer
December 1949 - - - - - - - LCDR Cook Cleland *
August 28, 1952 - - - - - - LCDR J. M. Rickabaugh
November 1953 - - - - - - - LCDR Benjamin Tappan, Jr.
June 1955 - - - - - - - - - CDR E. S. Parks
Late 1955 or Early 1956 -----LCDR Robert H. Moore, Jr.
January 1957- - - - - - - - LCDR Bernard Sevilla
May 30, 1958- - - - - - - - CDR E. W. Blackburn
March 6, 1959 - - - - - - - CDR L. M. Cauble
April 8, 1960 - - - - - - - CDR S. G. Gorsline, Jr.
September 28, 1961- - - - - LCDR Edward E. Riley (acting)
November 6, 1961- - - - - - CDR G. M. Veling
September 18, 1962- - - - - CDR Edward E. Riley
August 20, 1963 - - - - - - CDR Robert P. Smith
July 2, 1964- - - - - - - - CDR John R. Dewenter
July 2, 1965- - - - - - - - CDR Robert R. King, Jr.
July 1, 1966- - - - - - - - CDR Richard A. Mackell
June 23, 1967 - - - - - - - CDR Charles L. Bush
July 24, 1968 - - - - - - - CDR Morris A. Peelle
July 9, 1969- - - - - - - - CDR Theodore L. Lloyd, Jr.
* Cdr. L. Cook Cleland was also a two time winner of
Award - - - - - - - - - Inclusive Dates:
KOREAN SERVICE MEDAL:
12-04-51 to 06-20-52
04-03-53 to 08-09-53
08-22-53 to 11-21-53.
NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION
12-11-51 to 06-11-52
04-16-65 to 11-04-65
08-12-66 to 02-01-67
01-26-68 to 07-23-68.
12-07-51 to 06-20-52
04-30-53 to 07-27-53.
UNITED NATIONS SERVICE MEDAL
12-04-51 to 06-20-52
04-03-53 to 08-09-53
08-22-53 to 11-21-53.
NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL (KOREA)
December 1951 to June 1952.
ARMED FORCED EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL
10-23-58 to 01-01-59
03-28-61 to 04-07-61
01-23-68 to 03-22-68
09-28-69 to 10-04-69.
MILITARY UNIT COMMENDATION
05-05-69 to 11-03-69.
VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL
07-22-65 to 08-26-65
09-11-65 to 10-09-65
09-12-66 to 10-19-66
10-30-66 to 12-04-66
12-26-66 to 02-01-67
01-25-68 to 03-04-68
03-25-68 to 04-08-68
04-24-68 to 05-12-68
05-20-68 to 06-14-68
06-25-68 to 07-23-68
05-05-69 to 06-04-69
06-15-69 to 07-01-69
07-12-69 to 07-30-69
08-14-69 to 09-12-69
10-08-69 to 10-31-69.
1947: Cdr. L. Cook Cleland won his first Thompson Trophy at the Cleveland National Air Races. Commander Cleland won the Thompson Trophy again in 1949. His two Thompson Trophies rank him second only to Roscoe Turner the ace of the Cleveland National Air Races.
December 1949: Reserve Fighter Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VF-653) established with LCdr. Cook Cleland commanding at NAS Akron, Ohio. VF-653 was assigned the FG-1D Goodyear Corsair I.
February 1, 1951: Reserve Squadron VF-653, the Dragons were called to active duty.
April 16, 1951: Fighter Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE --- VF-653 was re-assigned to NAS Alameda, California. By May, VF-653 had been assigned the Vought F4U-4 Corsair I.
October 12, 1951 through August 5, 1952: Fighter Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE --- VF-653 flying the F4U-4 and F4U-4B Corsair with ATG-1 deployed to the Western Pacific and Korea on USS Valley Forge CV 45. This was the Dragon's first combat cruise to Korea.
December 11, 1951: VF-653 conducted its first combat strikes in the Korean War.
August 28, 1952: VF-653 was assigned the Grumman F9F-2 Panther.
February 4, 1953: VF-653 was re-designated as VF-151 - Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE, the Black Knights.
March 30, 1953 through November 28, 1953: Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE --- VF-151 flying the Grumman F9F-2 Panther with ATG-1 deployed to the Western Pacific and Korea on USS Boxer CVA 21. This was the Black Knights' Second combat cruise to Korea.
May 1, 1953: At Yokusuka (near Tokyo) - May Day was only base liberty because of Communist riots in the area.
May 13 through July 27, 1953: VF-151 with fourteen Grumman F9F-2 Panthers and 22 pilots engaged their first Korean War line period on Boxer. During this period the Black Knights participated in 120 strikes in which the squadron had 33 Panthers hit by flak, 19 of those Panthers were damaged beyond repair. During combat the squadron expended 122,535 20mm cannon rounds, 1,152 five inch rockets, and dropped 3,112 bombs weighing 624,080 pounds. During the period each pilot averaged 46 missions.
VF-151 pilots: Commanding Officer LCdr. John Rickabaugh, Executive Officer LCdr. Carl Roberts, Operations Officer LCdr. Herky Harper, Lt. Bob Brown, LSO Lt. Les Burton, Lt. Chuck Chute, Lt. Bill Fornoff, Lt. Max Malen, Lt. Mike Martin, Lt. Cal Russell, Lt(jg) Digger Doyle, Lt(jg) Jack Ingram, Lt(jg) Pat Kittler, Lt(jg) Jim McCarty, Lt(jg) Sam McKee, Lt(jg) Rusty Merrill, Lt(jg) Burt Shepperd, Lt(jg) "Super Secret" Smith, Ordinance Officer Ens. Al Bedford, Ens. Ken Cameron, Ens. Tom Ledford, Ens. Lou O'Neil, Ens. Roger Pattridge, Ens. Roger Sheets.
July 25, 1953: VF-151 Black Knight Lt(jg) Jack William Ingram, Jr., United States Navy, born January 10, 1928, 496331, flying a Grumman F9F-2 Panther was hit by antiaircraft fire (Triple A) north of Hungnam, North Korea. Lieutenant Ingram nursed his Panther to the Korean Sea before trying to ditch --- Lieutenant Ingram did not survive the resulting crash and was Killed In Action.
July 26, 1953: VF-151 Black Knight Ens. Thomas Franklin Ledford, United States Navy, in a Grumman F9F-2 Panther received a USS Boxer CVA 21 "Cold Cat." The Boxer's catapult failed to accelerate Ledford's Panther to flying speed and the Panther fell from the Boxer's bow, into the sea, upside down. Boxer then passed over the sinking plane killing Ledford. Ens. Tom Ledford was probably the last United States Naval Aviator killed in the Korean War.
September 1, 1954 through April 11, 1955: Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE --- VF-151, Black Knights flying the Grumman F9F-2 Panther with ATG-1 deployed to the Western Pacific on USS Wasp CVA 18. This was the Black Knights' third cruise to the Western Pacific.
February 1955: VF-151 provided air support during the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands following the their bombardment by Communist China.
May 1955: VF-151 was assigned the "Last Chance" Vought F7U-3M (Gutless) Cutlass.
February 7, 1956: VF-151 was re-designated as VA-151 - Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE, the Black Knights.
May 25, 1956 through December 20, 1956: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE --- VA-151 flying the "Last Chance" Vought F7U-3M (Gutless) Cutlass with ATG-1 deployed to the Western Pacific on USS Lexington CVA 16.
December 1956: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE Black Knights were assigned the F9F-8B Grumman Cougar.
July 1957: VA-151 was assigned the North American FJ-4B Fury.
October 4, 1958 through February 2, 1959: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE --- VA-151, Black Knights flying the North American FJ-4B Fury with ATG-1 deployed to the Western Pacific on USS Ticonderoga CVA 14.
February 23, 1959: VA-151 was re-designated as VA-23, Black Knights - Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE.
August 15, 1959 through March 25, 1960: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23, Black Knights flying the North American FJ-4B Fury with CVG-2 deployed to the Western Pacific on USS Midway CVA 41.
May 18, 1960: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE was assigned the Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk.
September 30, 1960: Lt(jg). Arthur W. Winterbottom, 27, of Ardmore, PA, was killed Friday when his VA-23 Skyhawk (Buno 142092) crashed into a 30-foot steel target when he failed to pull out of a dive on a low-level bombing run at NAAS Fallon, NV. Reno Gazette, 01 October 1970. Oakland, CA, Tribune, Friday, September 30, 1960. Lebanon, PA, Lebanon Daily News, Saturday, October 01, 1960
Lt(jg). Arthur W. Winterbottom, 27, was killed when he struck a 30-foot steel target during a low-level bombing run at Fallon. The squadron was engaged in competitive low level napalm lay down at 500 knots and 50-300 feet altitude. On this run the pilot was at 20 feet on release and failed to clear the top of the billboard and disintegrated into bits and pieces that scattered for almost a mile beyond the target. Naval Aviation News, Grampaw Pettibone, July 1961.
February 16, 1961 through September 28, 1961: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23, Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk with CVG-2 deployed the Western Pacific on USS Midway CVA 41.
September 30, 1961: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE VA-23 was reassigned to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.
November 12, 1961: NAS Lemoore reported its first air fatality since becoming operational this year. Lt(jg). Robert Anthony Huff, 26, of VA-23 was lost at sea during night operations with the USS Midway off the Monterey Peninsula on Sunday. A search for the A4D (BuNo 142852) was unsuccessful. Eureka, CA Humboldt Standard,, Tuesday, November 14, 1961.
April 6, 1962 through October 20, 1962: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23, Black Knights flying the Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk with CVG-2 deployed to the Western Pacific on USS Midway CVA 41.
August 11, 1962: Lt(jg). Andrew F. Cianciotto (VA-23) ejected from his disabled A4D Skyhawk (BuNo 142904) shortly after take-off a quarter mile out from the from NAS Atsugi runway. The Skyhawk crashed 200 yards further on after it tore through the power lines of a nearby elcetric railway. A rescue helicopter picked up Cianciotto and rushed him to the U.S. Army Japan hospital. Doctors say he may have suffered a broken shoulder. US Armed Forces Pacific Stars & Stripes, Sunday, August 12, 1962.
September 18, 1962: Cdr. George Morwood Veling (VA-23 CO ) is presumed dead after his A4D-2 Skyhawk (BuNo 145055) crashed Tuesday night shortly after taking-off from the USS Midway. The Navy said he is presumed to have died after an 11 hour search failed to turn up any trace of Veling. Pacific Stars & Stripes, Thursday, 20 September, 1962.5
1955 hours an A4D, Cdr. Veling, pilot, crashed shortly after catapulting from Midway. Ozbourn (DD-846) detached to investigate. 2149 Detached Hollister (DD-788) to assist Ozbourne. USS Midway deck log, 18 September 1962.
September 27, 1962: A flight of three A-4B Skyhawks launched from their home CVA for a coastal air station in Japan. From there they made a navigation flight to a target area in South Korea, released a practice bomb on the target and climbed to 38,000 feet for the return to the ship. The number 3 man on the leaders starboard wing noted he was falling behind and increased power to 99%, easing the nose over to pick up some airspeed. As he closed up alongside he eased the nose up to resume his stepped up position and noted an immediate 5% loss of RPM. Lowering the nose and increased throttle didn't regain the lost power and he was rapidly falling behind the other two planes. He decided to switch to manual and pulled the throttle back to the halfway position and threw the switch as the RPM was coming down which resulted in a loud thud which shook the whole aircraft followed by three more violent thuds. He shut the engine down, switched to primary and hit the air-start switch without success. As he glided down he informed the flight of his problem and tried several more air-starts without a relight and the engine sounded like a bucket of loose bolts. At 17,000 feet he an airfield in a small valley surrounded by rugged mountains behind him and decided to try a flame-out approach to the airfield. He hit the 180 position at 5,000 feet and 240 knots, gear up, flaps and hook down and speed-brakes out. At the 135 position he had 4,000 feet and 230 knots and lowered his landing gear with excess airspeed that would make him land long. As he rolled into the groove he retracted the brakes and pushed the nose over resulting in a tremendous rate of descent and he had to break his glide at 5-600 feet and set down at 200 knots and 3,500 feet down the 6,600 feet runway. As he went off the end of the runway at the old K-9 airfield with the brakes locked at 100 knots he ejected (and A4D-2 BuNo 142894 was destroyed). Naval Aviation News, Grampaw Pettibone, February 1963. Grampaw Pettibone (cont.),
December 26, 1962: VA-23 was assigned the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk. The Black Knights were the first squadron in the world to be assigned the "E" Skyhawk.
October 10, 1963: Lt(jg). Francis J. Davis, 24, (VA-23, NAS Lemoore) ejected from his Skyhawk (BuNo 149662) Wednesday while on a routine training flight 55 miles west of the Golden Gate. He was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. Utah County, UT The Daily Herald, Thursday, October 3, 1963
November 8, 1963 through May 26, 1964: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23 Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk with CVG-2 deployed to the Western Pacific on United States Ship Midway CVA 41.
February 26, 1965: Lt(jg). Larry J. Cooper, 25, is presumed to have been killed Thursday when his A4E Skyhawk (BuNo 151146) crashed into the sea about 150 miles SW of San Diego. While operating from the USS Midway he flew into a restricted area, was mistaken for an expected target drone, and shot down by a Terrier missile fired from the USS Preble (DDG-88) in the Silver Lance training exercises off A search of the crash area revealed scattered debris. Long Beach, CA Press-Telegram, Friday, February 26, 1965
February 28, 1965: Lt(jg). James W. Sloat Jr., ejected safely when his A-4E (BuNo 151153) exploded in flight at 2,500 feet during a refueling operation from another A-4E while participating in Operation Silver Lance. The plane crashed about 160 miles SW of San Diego and the pilot was pulled from the water by a helicopter piloted by Lt (jg). D.H. Jung. US Armed Forces European Stars and Stripes, Wednesday, March 3, 1965.
March 6, 1965 through November 23, 1965: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23 Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk with CVG-2 deployed to the Western Pacific and Vietnam on USS Midway CVA 41. This was the Black Knight's first combat cruise to Vietnam and first combat since the Korean War.
April 25, 1965: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE was the first squadron to use the Shrike anti-radiation missile in combat.
June 2, 1965: Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151144 side number NE 348 was shot down by North Vietnamese gun fire. The pilot, Lieutenant Junior Grade D. M. Christian, was Killed in Action.
June 2, 1965: Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151161 side number NE 349 was shot down by North Vietnamese gun fire. The pilot, Lt. J. B. McKamey, ejected successfully, was captured by the North Vietnamese and made Prisoner of War.
July 28, 1965: Lt. Grant R. Townsend, 27, ejected when he was pulling his A4 Skyhawk (BuNo 149962, NE 341) out of a bombing run when a sudden explosion jolted the plane and he was engulfed in a ball of flame and the aircraft was completely out of control, lost to own bomb explosion. After a 90 minute visit to North Vietnam he was rescued by a helicopter piloted by USAF Lt. Walter Turk. The Progress-Index, Thursday, July 29, 1965.
August 11, 1965. Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151185 side number NE 345 was shot down by a North Vietnamese Surface to Air Missile - SAM. The pilot, Lt(jg) D. H. Brown, Jr., was Killed in Action.
February 24, 1966: Cdr. Robert R. King and LCdr. Stewart Blair, both assigned to VA-23 at NAS Lemoore, ejected when their Skyhawks (BuNos 151104 and 151174) collided about one mile south of MCAS El Toro, CA while making a practice GCA. Blair's Skyhawk crashed about six miles south of MCAS El Toro at 7:16 p.m. and King's Skyhawk crashed more than 15 minutes later in an open area at Camp Pendleton. King was hospitalized at Camp Pendleton with a dislocated shoulder. Redlands, CA, Redlands Daily Facts, Friday, February 25, 1966.
August 29, 1966 through February 23, 1967: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23 Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk with CVG-2 deployed to the Western Pacific and Vietnam on USS Coral Sea CVA 43. This was the Black Knight's second combat cruise to Vietnam.
October 10, 1966: Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151150 side number NE 340 was shot down by a North Vietnamese Surface to Air Missile - SAM. The pilot, Lt(jg) M. S. Confer, was Killed in Action.
January 13, 1967: Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151158 side number NE 345 was shot down by North Vietnamese antiaircraft fire - Triple A. The pilot, Lt(jg) M. P. Cronin, ejected successfully, was captured by the North Vietnamese and made Prisoner of War.
January 15, 1967: Lt(jg). Daniel Hagan Moran was killed when his A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151168 side number NE 346 was hit by AAA while he was participating in a strike on the Qui Vinh railroad yard about 10 miles SW of Van Yen. Although the Skyhawk had a large hole in the starboard nose under the cockpit it remained flyable - and Lt(jg). Moran took it out to sea. Escorting aircrewmen saw him move in the cockpit, but Moran was flying erratically and did not respond to radio or hand signals. Moran took his aircraft to the North SAR destroyer and ejected close alongside, but he was dead when a boat crew from the destroyer pulled him from the water.
December 28, 1967 through August 17, 1968: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23 Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk with CVW-19 deployed to the Western Pacific and Vietnam on USS Ticonderoga CVA 14. This was the Black Knight's third combat cruise to Vietnam. There were no combat losses this cruise.
March 15 to 20, 1968: After the January 23, 1968 capture of USS Pueblo AGER 2 by North Korea, VA-23 operated from Ticonderoga in the Sea of Japan - commanding the seas for the United States of America.
April 1968: VA-23 flew combat strikes around Khe Sahn, South Vietnam, in support of the besieged Marine base.
July 23, 1968: VA-23 Black Knight LCdr. Lawrence D. Gosen, United States Navy in A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154189 was given a Ticonderoga cold catapult and lost over the side in a non-combat accident. LCdr. Gosen was killed.
0728 Plane crash off starboard bow during launch position 18-21N, 107-48E, pilot not sighted. USS Ticonderoga deck log, 23 July 1968.
LCdr. Gosen (Class of 59) flying with the VA-23 Black Knights, was lost in A-4F BuNo 154189 due to a launch failure aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). LCdr. Gosen's casket flag was presented to his widow, Patricia, at the dedication of A4F 154977, NM 301. He, and squadron mate Lt. S.K. Smiley, are remembered with their names on the nose of Skyhawk BuNo 154977 aboard the museum ship USS Midway.
April 14, 1969 through November 17, 1969: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE --- VA-23 Black Knights flying the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk with CVW-19 deployed to the Western Pacific and Vietnam on USS Oriskany CVA 34. This was the Black Knight's fourth and last combat cruise to Vietnam.
July 20, 1969: Black Knight A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 154993 side number NM 306 was shot down by Laos gun fire. The pilot, Lt. S.K. Smiley, was Killed in Action.
July 29, 1969: Lt. Ronald R. Machens ejected safely from BuNo 154184 following an in-flight refueling engine fire. 1647 received report of parachute off starboard side. 1650 received word that reported man overboard was erroneous and was actually an ejection off the starboard side. 1653 received word that Lt. Ronald R. Machens from VA-23 was recovered by helo #005 having ejected from his burning aircraft A-4 bureau #669271 (sic). He was taken to sick bay and examined by the ships medical officer, then released in good condition. USS Oriskany deck log, Tuesday, 29 July 1969.
April 1, 1970: Attack Squadron TWENTY-THREE was officially disestablished on April Fools Day, after more than 19 years of active service to the United States of America.
VF-653 F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125480 - 1952 VF-653 Grumman F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125480 side number H 113 at Naval Air Station Alameda in October 1952. Photograph by and from Robert Brozovich.VF-653 F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125559 - 1952 VF-653 Grumman F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125559 side number H 110 at Naval Air Station Alameda in October 1952. Panther BuNo. 125559 nose detail. Photograph by and from Robert Brozovich.
VF-653 F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125184 - 1952 Robert Brozovich stands next to VF-653 Grumman F9F-5 Panther BuNo. 125184 side number H 101 at Naval Air Station Alameda in October 1952. Panther BuNo. 125184 front view. Close up of the nose section of Panther BuNo. 125101. Photographs by and from Robert Brozovich.
VF-151 F9F-2 Panther - 1953 VF-151 Black Knight Grumman F9F-2 Panther on the USS Boxer CVA-21 off Korea displays five inch rockets on folded wing prior to mission over North Korea during the summer of 1953. USN photograph from Alan Bedford.
VF-151 F9F-2 Panther - 1953 Black Knight Grumman F9F-2 Panthers line up for launch on USS Boxer CVA-21 off Korea. VF-151 was on Boxer from March to November 1953 for combat against North Korea. VF-151 was redesignated VA-151 which was redesignated VA-23. USN photograph from Alan Bedford.
13-18 FEB 1956: VF-151 Black Knights F7U-3 Cutlass BuNo 129654, Armitage Field, China Lake, 13-18 February, 1956. Top" Butler, Larsen, Moore (CO), Carrig, Howe and Conroy. Bottom: Behnke, Crandall, Corbett, Harwood, Doss and Chantler.VF-151 F7U-3 Cutlass Flight - 1956 Black Knight deuce of Chance Vought F7U-3 Cutlass flight flying past Mount Fuji, Japan in 1956. BuNo. 129615 - side number U-308 leads BuNo. 129617 - side number U-302. USN photograph from Charles Swinford.
Additonal info supplied by Tom Neal: Photo taken on 28 Nov 1956.
VA-151; U-308 pilot: LT Hal Russell Crandall, U-302 pilot: LT Howe
Mount Fuji, Japan flyby at 25,000 Feet
This information was provided by Kristen Crandall, Hal Crandall's daughter. Crandall was killed on 24 July 1963 when a mechanical failure caused his F-8 Crusader to crash into Subic Bay, Philippines.
01SEP60: VA-23 taken at NAF China Lake in 1960 l-r across the top of the photo: ****, Bill ****, John Deed, ****, **** Tony Davis. Middle row l-r: Charles H. Ha**son far right Front row l-r: ****, Tom Bulze, ****, ****, ****, Frank But** ****. Navy photo from Gary Verver.
circa 1962: Black Knights Skyhawk BuNo 142894, NE-408, behind the JBD as she waits her turn to launch from the stbd cat. Photo source unknown.
Unidentified VA-23 Black Knights Skyhawk NE-412, on the ramp at NAS Lemoore. Courtesy of Tom Bispo.
16 February 1964: Lt(jg). Davis in VA-23 Black Knights A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149964, NE-340, gets the launch signal aboard the USS Midway (CVA-41). Official U.S. Navy photo.
24 SEP 1965: Black Knights Skyhawk, BuNo 151169, as LTJG Michael Weakley gets a close look at his Echos battle damage. Naval Aviation News.
28 October 1965: VA-23 Black Knights A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 152017, NE-336, piloted by Cdr. Robert R. King of Pomona, CA, (VA-23 CO), fires 2.75-inch rockets at Viet Cong targets in Vietnam. Official U.S. Navy photo.
1965: VA-23 A-4E BuNo 152046, NE-xx, 1965 USS Midway. Photo from Melly Jones, G. Verver Collection.
1965: VA-23 Black Knights A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 151143, NE-343, with the hook and gear down and the speed breaks out. Official U.S. Navy photo.
Flown by CDR Robert R. King of VA-23 BuNo 152017 Skyhawk unloads a savo of 3 inch rockets against the Viet Cong. USN Photo provided by Gary Verver
28OCT65 BuNo.152017: A 2,000 pound bomb, dropped from a Navy A4 Skyhawk jet, is on its way to a target in a raid on a Viet Cong stronghold in South Vietnam. The Department of Defense said in releasing the photo in Washington, Dec.9, that the plane was piloted by CMDR Robert R. King of Pomona, Calif., Commanding officer of Attack Squadron 23 aboard the Carrier Midway. The photo was made last month before the return to the United States of the Midway. U.S. Navy Photo via AP Wirephoto. w/j60600usn 1965. From Gary Verver Collection
FEB66: 1966: Formation of four VA-23 A-4E Skyhawks, possibly over California. NAN Photo from Gary Verver.
1966-1967: VA-23 A-4E BuNo 151168 taxiing forward for a launch aboard the Coral Sea. Visible behind 168 is VA-22 A-4C BuNo 147761. Probably between Aug 1966 and end of Feb 1967 as that is when VA-22 and VA-23 were on the Coral Sea. From Gary Verver.
August 1966: Skyhawk formation of Black Knights BuNo 151143, NE-343, BuNo 149962, NE-338, BuNo 149963, NE-347 and Redcocks BuNo 147844, NE 226. John Champlin via "Boom" Powell.
November 1966 Coral Sea CVA-43: LT Jerry P. Shafer was forced to land his A-4E aircraft into Coral Sea's barricade after a combat strike near Haiphong in North Vietnam. BuNo 151120 was hit in the left wing, was on fire at different times in the flight, and was very low on fuel.
December 1966: left rear view of damaged Black Knights Skyhawk parked on the Coral Sea flight deck. Unknown photographer via W. Mutza.
02 January 1967: right side view of Black Knights Skyhawk BuNo 151162, NE-336, assigned to CO Cdr. Dick Mackell parked on the ramp as it awaits repairs to the burned out lower tail section. p/c is AA W.L. Jackson.
1967-1968: VA-23 Black Knights A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154188, NM-301, from the USS-Ticonderoga in-flight, 1967-1968. Official U.S. Navy photo.
15 March 1968: Black Knight March 15, 1968 telegram for Uncle Ho Chi Minh. Photograph from Jim Ritchie.
15 Mar 1968: BuNo 154188, NM-301, carrying the name of CO Commander Chuck Bush, chained down on the deck of the Tico. Photograph from Jim Ritchie.
MAR 1969: Black Knights Skyhawk BuNo 154195, NM-302, assigned to XO CDR Ted Lloyd, parked on the Lemoore ramp. NAS Washington T-28B Trojans BuNo 137682 & 137643 at left and NAS Washington T-1A Seastars BuNo 144197. Nick Williams.
1969: NM 310 and NM 312. VA-23 A-4F Skyhawks in flight near Naval Air Station Lemoore California. USN photograph from Jim Ritchie.
1969: BuNo 154195, NM-302, of VA-23 aboard CVA-34 in 1969. Photo from Richard Mylar.
1969: VA-23 Black Knight A-4F Skyhawk and Patch Poster. Graphic drawn by Jim Ritchie.
1969: Black Knight preparing to enter the cockpit as the Plane Captain looks on. Lee Morris.
1969: 1969: NM-302 Under tow while the ship is in port. CVW-19 aboard the Oriskany was on a WestPac (Vietnam) Cruise. Perhaps the port is Subic Bay Phillipines. Note the aft "Hell Hole" (engine access) is hanging open. Lee Morris.1969: With a air refueling tank (Buddy Store) on the centerline station, this "Black Knight" will be doing Tanker Duty. Lee Morris
1969: Tires smoke as this Skyhawks touches down. Note the "Plane Guard" escort cruising the wake of the Oriskany, just in case someone winds up in the water. And the LSO is peeking around the LSO Platform wind break to check on the trap. Lee Morris
1969: NM-307 does a flyby of the Oriskany. Lee Morris
1969: LTJG "Mac" McCullen mans NM-307. Lee Morris
1969: Maintenance is checking out the cockpit. A/c is loaded with ordinance, but no one is in Flight Deck Uniform so launch is still some time off. Lee Morris
1969: NM-310 taxies. Lee Morris
1969: Maintenance crew at work on NM-314. Lee Morris
1969: Plane Captain Art Peck in 314 which has LTJG "Mac" McCullen's name on it. Lee Morris
1969: 1969: NM-314 has a wire and begins roll out with speed brakes still open. Lee Morris
1969: Loaded up with iron bombs and taxing towards the cat with the help of nose wheel tiller bar. Yes the "Foxtrot" has nose wheel steering but the Blue Shirt can walk the nose wheel into the exact cat hookup position more precisely than the pilot can from the cockpit. Lee Morris
1969: Ready to go on the Port Cat, holdback is drawn tight, and the Cat Officer is going through his launch procedure. Note the position of the flaps for takeoff. Some units used a knotched stick to ensure exact positioning of the flaps, checking the bird behind the JBD when the bird was next up on the cat. Lee Morris
1969: CVW-19 Skyhawks aboard the USS Oriskany. Left to right is VA-512 NM-512, VA-23 NM-304 and VA-192 NM-4xx.
1969: Closeup of CVW-19 Skyhawks aboard the USS Oriskany. Left to right is VA-512 NM-512, VA-23 NM-304 and VA-192 NM-4xx. Richard Mylar.
A-4 Aircraft assigned to this unit: