Alameda Naval Air Museum

VA-303 "Golden Hawks" Attack Squadron 303

VA-303's Standard Squadron Patch
Standard Squadron Patch
Strike Fighter Squadron 303 Golden Hawks patch
Strike Fighter Squadron 303
"Golden Hawks" patch
Strike Fighter USN/Hornet Type Patch
Strike Fighter
USN Hornet Type Patch

Squadron History

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.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

The squadron's insignia was approved by CNO on 23 February 1972. Colors for the hawk insignia are: a blue background outlined by two gold circles with white diamonds between the gold circles; white and red bridge; gold hawk with black markings and a red lightning bolt eminating from its beak; the Corsair II design is white; blue scrolls outlined in gold with gold lettering. A modification to the above insignia was approved by CNO on 24 April 1984. The bridge design was replaced by brown mountains with white markings; the Corsair II design was replaced by a white hornet and the Attack Squadron 303 designation was changed to Strike Fighter Squadron 303. All the other colors remained the same as the previous insignia.

Nickname: Golden Hawks, 1972-1994.

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.

VA-303 Corsair II Patch
VA-303 Corsair II Type Patch
Homeport Assignments
LocationAssignment Date
NAS Alameda1 July 1970
NAS Leemore1 January 1984
Commanding Officers
Commanding OfficerDate Assumed Command
CDR William E. Nelson1 July 1970
CDR Philip H. Benz17 July 1971
CDR Olin A. Gray21 January 1973
CDR Reid T. Melville14 December 1974
CDR Alfred F. Talley19 June 1976
CDR Thomas E. Gehman17 June 1978
CDR Donald P. Smith21 June 1980
CDR Harold Shorr1982
CDR Richard A. Banks23 July 1983
CDR Robert R. Greathouse1984
CDR Jon L. GreenOctober 1985
CDR Scott H. Davis11 April 1987
CDR John S. Wood22 October 1988
CDR Charles B. Askey19 May 1990
CDR Barry C. Douglas18 May 1991
CDR Ronald J. Smeltzer19 September 1992
CDR Jeffrey L. Schram8 January 1994
Aircraft Assignment
Type of AircraftDate Type First Received
A-4C1 July 1970
A-7A5 April 1971
A-7B11 August 1977
F/A-18A19 October 1985
Air Wing Assignments
Air WingTail CodeAssignment Date
CVWR-30ND1 July 1970
Unit Awards Received
Unit AwardInclusive DatesCovering Unit Award
NAVE1 July 197131 December 1972
1 January 198731 December 1987
1 January 198931 December 1989
1 January 199131 December 1991
VA-303 Golden Hawk's A-7 Corsair II taxiing for takeoff at NAS Alameda
VA-303 Golden Hawk's A-7 Corsair II taxiing for takeoff at NAS Alameda in February of 1980.
The Oakland Estuary is in the background, beyond that is the Oakland Naval Supply Center


Credit:Images provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri.