VA-303 “Golden Hawks” Attack Squadron Home » NAS Units » VA-303 “Golden Hawks” Attack Squadron

va-303-attack-squadron-patchva-303-strike-fighter-patchAttack 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.

Homeport Assignments

Location Assignment Date
NAS Alameda 1 July 1970
NAS Leemore 1 January 1984

Commanding Officers

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

Aircraft Assignment

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


— provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri.

13 thoughts on “VA-303 “Golden Hawks” Attack Squadron

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. The thing I remember most of all about you is when you spilled a bottle of white out on the deck in Admin/Pers Office. left your mark! Enjoyed serving and working with the officers and those in the office. Chief Sache?, YN1 Eden and Yn3 Dennis Lee. I went regular Navy
      After leaving VA-303 And retired as a MAC(SW). Lot of good memories from that tour. Take care. Joe Whipple (Romans 10:9,10).

  3. Was there for the transfer from VA to Lemoore. Was one of the tours of my career. Had Lot of friends there.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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