Attack Squadron (VA-303) was established at Naval Air Station Alameda on 1 July 1970. Disestablished on 31 December 1994. The first squadron to be assigned the VA-303 and VFA-303 designation.
Chronology of Significant Events
1 July 1970: VA-303, a reserve squadron, established as part of a reorganization of the reserves intended to increase the combat readiness of the Naval Air Reserve Force.
April 1971: VA-303 was the first reserve squadron to transition to the A-7A Corsair II.
November 1975: The squadron deployed aboard Ranger (CV 61) for the annual active duty training and as part of CVWR-30’s tactical air mobilization test and the operational readiness exercise/inspection to ensure the squadron was seaworthy and combat ready.
19 October 1985: VFA-303 was the first reserve squadron to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet. When VA-303 became the first Naval Air Reserve Squadron to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, the change over took place at NAS Alameda, prior to the squadron leaving for NAS Lemoore.
25 September – 20 November 1990: A detachment of the squadron’s F/A-18 Hornets and personnel, along with VFA-305, joined CVW-11 aboard Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) for her transit from Norfolk to Alameda, via Cape Horn.
November 1990: A detachment of squadron aircraft and personnel deployed to NWC China Lake in direct support of Operation Desert Shield. Provided critical real world electronic warfare test and evaluation missions requiring aircraft fully functional with electronic warfare, Harm missile and electronic countermeasure suites.
1993: In early 1993 the squadron added the roles of Adversary and Fleet Support to its primary mission.
|NAS Alameda||1 July 1970|
|NAS Leemore||1 January 1984|
|Commanding Officer||Date Assumed Command|
|CDR William E. Nelson||1 July 1970|
|CDR Philip H. Benz||17 July 1971|
|CDR Olin A. Gray||21 January 1973|
|CDR Reid T. Melville||14 December 1974|
|CDR Alfred F. Talley||19 June 1976|
|CDR Thomas E. Gehman||17 June 1978|
|CDR Donald P. Smith||21 June 1980|
|CDR Harold Shorr||1982|
|CDR Richard A. Banks||23 July 1983|
|CDR Robert R. Greathouse||1984|
|CDR Jon L. Green||October 1985|
|CDR Scott H. Davis||11 April 1987|
|CDR John S. Wood||22 October 1988|
|CDR Charles B. Askey||19 May 1990|
|CDR Barry C. Douglas||18 May 1991|
|CDR Ronald J. Smeltzer||19 September 1992|
|CDR Jeffrey L. Schram||8 January 1994|
|Type of Aircraft||Date Type First Received|
|A-4C||1 July 1970|
|A-7A||5 April 1971|
|A-7B||11 August 1977|
|F/A-18A||19 October 1985|
Air Wing Assignments
|Air Wing||Tail Code||Assignment Date|
|CVWR-30||ND||1 July 1970|
Unit Awards Received
|Unit Award||Inclusive Dates||Covering Unit Award|
|NAVE||1 July 1971||31 December 1972|
|NAVE||1 January 1987||31 December 1987|
|NAVE||1 January 1989||31 December 1989|
|NAVE||1 January 1991||31 December 1991|
- VA-303 Unit Page (Military.com)
- Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons – Volume I (see “Chapter 2 Attack Squadron Histories for VA-210 to VA-873”)
— provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri.
12 thoughts on “VA-303 “Golden Hawks” Attack Squadron”
I am writing a book on the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and am looking for a photograph of a Hornet in VFA-303 markings. Are you in a position to assist.?
I came to VA-303 in 1971 and spent the most happiest years of my Navy career in this squadron.
Hello Clay Townsend, my name is Ron Knox, I was also part of the squadron from its inception through Sept 1972. I was an Avionics Technician (AT3) assigned to the Integrated Weapons Team (IWT). I also really liked my time in VA-303. I was in the Navy for just one tour, 1969 thru 1972.
Hey Clay, this is Troy Patterson. After being a plane captain I worked with you in the hangar as an AQ. Was there 72-75
I was with VFA303 from 81-86 . Some of the best times of my career.
I transferred into VA-303 as an AO1 in the summer of 1972, from VA-304. My first assignment was as a QAR. I departed briefly upon release from active duty as a TAR in late 1973, returning in a drilling status 7 months later, in work center 230, in 1975, until my move to Seattle with Eastman Kodak in August of 1978. The lessons learned in VA-303 on going the extra distance to manage active duty periods for reservists with employer conflicts I carried forward for the next 30 years, especially after I returned to active duty with the Army and took over a shop with then 7 Warrant Officers and 16 Enlisted soldiers, most in a drilling status, some active duty. It is fair to say the lessons I learned in VA-303, from some stellar leadership, were responsible for the retention of a lot of soldiers in the Army National Guard. It is odd how we recall good leadership and the lessons they impart as we move forward in our lives. I still keep in contact with my last Ordnance shop Chief from VA-303, AOCS Bob Lindberg, some 43 years later. Sadly, many of those I served with in the shop have now passed on but the memory of our times the squadron remain. Rob Billington, CW5, U.S. Army Retired.
AD1 Townsend ??
Hey Chuck. This is your old buddy Troy Patterson. Are you still in Metarie?
I served with the yellow chickens from 71 through 74. Best years of my life and one of my best tours of active duty. If the walls could only talk!
I served under CDR Benz to Melville and finished working from the infamous RADM Tommy Rinard Comnavairesfor
YNCS(AW) Bob Payne (AW), USNR, retired
Was there for the transfer from VA to VFA.at Lemoore. Was one of the tours of my career. Had Lot of friends there.
In 1972 The Three Hundred & Third Light Bombardment Squadron (VA 303) was my first tour right of A-School from NAS New Orleans as a PN Personel Yeoman with the squadron. My CO was Olin Gray (Oley) overseeing flight ops recording flight hours for all the pilots.
I remember our annual scheduled tour to NAS Fallon NV for the “Bombing Derby”. Our squadron came in first during that exercise.
A lot of great memories with those guys.
Hello Gordon, my brother-in-law of 40 years Olin Gray passed away on February 3rd in Clovis CA. The last year was a battle against lung cancer and injuries from a fall. He never gave up and he looked forward to returning to a normal routine, but while in rehab he caught Covid 19 and it was more than his body could take. He still has a model of an A4 in his office in a glass case. I served from 1975 -1979 with VS-38 out of NAS North Island as an AT. We both had allot to talk about over the years. Being shot down once over Vietnam was still a vivid memory for him. Take care.