VA-304 “Firebirds” Attack Squadron Home » NAS Units » VA-304 “Firebirds” Attack Squadron

va-304-a7-corsair-ii-patchAttack Squadron (VA-304) was established at Naval Air Station Alameda on 1 July 1970. The squadron consists of twelve Ling-Temco-Vought A-7B Corsair II’s. VA-304 is a squadron of Reserve Carrier Air Wing Thirty (CVWR-30), also headquartered at NAS Alameda.

Since its inception, the squadron has built a reputation as the performance leader in the Naval Air Reserve Community. In LATWINGPAC Bombing Derby competition, held at NAS Fallon, NV, VA-304 captured the Silver Bomb Award as the best A-7A/B squadron in four of the six derbies in which it competed.

VA-304 has received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award, presented by the Chief of Naval Reserve to the most outstanding Naval Air Tailhook squadron in the United States. In addition, the squadron has twice won the Noel Davis trophy as the most efficient attack squadron in the Naval Air Reserve.

VA-304 was awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) by Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf for the period of 1 November 1973 through 30 November 1975, for distinguishing itself by meritorious achievement as the Outstanding Naval Air Reserve Squadron.

Attack Squadron 304 was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award (Navy “E” Ribbon) for the period 1 July 1974 through 30 September 1976, winning the fleet-wide eighteen month competitive cycle of exercises, testing all phases of battle readiness.

During the tenure of Commanding Officer CDR John R. Hines Jr. (20 May 1990 – 16 November 1991) VA-304 was awarded the Golden Anchor for retention and two consecutive “Silver Bullet” Awards for Ordnance Department Excellence.

Chronology of Significant Events

1 Jul 1970: VA-304, a reserve squadron, established as part of a reorganization intended to increase the combat readiness of the Naval Air Reserve Force. Elements of reserve unit, VA-20G3, were used to form the newly established VA-304.

28 Sep 1982: the squadron exceeded eight years and 27,500 accident free flight hours. This safety milestone is the second longest sustained record for both Active Fleet and Naval Air Reserve A-7 squadrons.

May 1987: VA-304 operated from the Canadian Forces Base at Edmonton, Alberta, while participating in exercise Rendezvous 87-Bold Warrior. The exercise was a mock full-scale battle between elements of the Canadian Armed Forces with VA-304 acting as an aggressor force.

Aug 1988: Attack Squadron 304 transitioned to the Grumman A-6E Intruder, becoming the first Naval Air Reserve squadron to do so.

Commanding Officers

Commanding Officer Date Assumed Command
CDR John H. Thompson 1 July 1970
CDR Peter L. Hammes 1 Jul 1971
CDR Jerry V. Kirk 21 Jan 1973
CDR Raymond G. Blake 20 Jul 1974
CDR David M. Boaz 17 Jan 1976
CDR Matthew A. McCarthy Jan 1978
CDR Frank J. Bender 20 Oct 1979
CDR R. F. Bush Jun 1981
CDR D. B. Ashworth Mar 1983
CDR Thomas A. Hearn Sept 1984
CDR Donald K. Simmons 20 Apr 1986
CDR Daniel R. Kestly 26 Apr 1987
CDR Michael F. Dibello 16 Oct 1988
CDR John R. Hines, Jr. 20 May 1990
CDR Robert S. Mull, Jr. 16 Nov 1991
CDR William A. Roig 22 May1993
CDR Craig C. Groom 25 Jun 1994

Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
A-4C Jul 1970
A-7A 6 Aug 1971
A-7B Sep 1977
A-7E Sep 1986
KA-6D Jul 1988
A-6E Aug 1988

Air Wing Assignments

Air Wing Tail Code Assignment Date
CVWR-30 ND 1 Jul 1970

Unit Awards Received

Unit Award Inclusive Dates Covering Unit Award
MUC 1 Nov 1973 30 Nov 1975
NAVE 1 Jul 1974 30 Sep 1976


— provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri

16 thoughts on “VA-304 “Firebirds” Attack Squadron

  1. I am now working with the Fort Worth Aviation Museum restoring aircraft. We have an A7B here that has the VA-304 Firebird colors Call sign #412 and is a veteran of Vietnam. you can see her new pictures at I have spent a lot of time getting her fixed up since she was in my squadron of VA-304.

    AQ-2 Rich Garrett -Plane Captain as well.

    1. You can see pictures of VA-304, A-7B # 412 on Facebook , Fort Worth Aviation Museum. This aircraft has a dual paint scheme. VA-304 on port side and VA-215 Barn Owls on the starboard side. This aircraft served in several squadrons and these were the two she spent the most time in and is also sponsored by CMDR Steve “Jake” Jacobson and Capt “Muddy” Rivers as well. Both served in VA-304 and CMDR “Jake” Jacobson was in VA-215 as well.

      1. Socorso here…attached to VA-304 back in ’74. Boaz was Co and Muddy Rivers was one of the pilots back then in the squadron. I was the OPS Yeoman. Been retired now since October 1990. Now living in DaNang, Vietnam for the past 6 years. To this day I have nothing but great memories of the men and women who I was so lucky to serve with. I’ll check out the site on the museum…Happy Holidays and godspeed to you and yours.

        1. Hey Steve!

          Stumbled across your comment on the VA-304 page.

          I’m still in San Francisco and doing well.

          Had a great time as a Firebird; but that was now a low time ago.

          I’ve been to what was NAS Alameda and it’s kinda strange. A whole lot quieter. Last I heard Hangar 20 was making gin.

          Bill Ruck

  2. Hi guys. I remember you from 215 and 304. Jake from 215 and Muddy from 304 . Both of these squads were my favs. Two crusises with “Shaky
    Jake” in 215 and then a few years in 304 with “Muddy”. I remember River’s’ AMC hot rod when he was flying for Western I think. Good old days.
    Hope you gentlemen are doing well. Harry Frick ATC (ret)

    1. I remember you Harry, I went to AIMD early on and kind of lost every day contact with the squadron. Made three deployments, Lady Lex at Pensecola, Fallon and Yuma.

  3. Im the Author of The Legendary Hunters of Texas. Is there a book written about VA-304s history and its accomplishments? I was in the squadron back in the 90s.

    1. Not aware of any books, just Naval Aviation statistical info. Several pilots in the Dallas Fort Worth area that flew with them. I was also in VF-202 and VF-201 (briefly) as reserve. It would be good to see a VA-304 book.

      Rich Garrett

  4. I was a member of VA-304 at Alameda NAS from Jan 74 to dec 76. At the time I was an AT2 and worked in the Electronic Shop. Much of the time I was there I was on night check. I wish I could remember the names of some of my shipmates. I do remember our division chief’s name was Roy. One person I worked with was an AT named Steitz. The night check production control person’s name was Ernie, can’t remember his last name. If there are others out there that were there at that time, I’d like to hear from you. Larry Cicero

    1. You worked with Oley and Smitty and Belflower I think … he might have been an AE then. I worked with Harry Hellerman and Darrell Shipley and Pete Peterson in the AQ W/C, after I came off the line.


      1. I served in VA-304 from 75-77. Started on the line, PC/TS, then moved to the IWT Shop under Pete and the division chief was Krutcher (SCPO) . Pete made Chief just before I transferred and AQ2 Powell, and an AT that I don’t remember the name.

  5. hello to VA304 vets, my name is bill peek in came into unit in late 1971. i was a week end warrior, i had the second week end of each month. but would come to the base at alameda and request extra week end duty, i have very found memmories.. i had a buddy named marvin jolly, i think he was a adj not sure. plane number 400 is a concrete stand at alameda. i was there when they had the base closeing . sure was heart breaking. oh yes i worked out on the flight line. came into va304 after leaving the uss enterprise cvan65. in was in v3 div. happy to come across this site.

  6. I served in VA-304 from 75-77. Started on the line, PC/TS, then moved to the IWT Shop under Pete and the division chief was Krutcher (SCPO) . Pete made Chief just before I transferred and AQ2 Powell, and an AT that I don’t remember the name.

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