Alameda Naval Air Museum

VA-304 "Firebirds" Attack Squadron 304

VA-304 A-7 Firebirds Patch
VA-304 A-7 "Firebirds" Patch
 
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch with an A-7 Corsair superimposed
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch
with an A-7 Corsair superimposed
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch after transition to A-6 Intruder
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch after transition to A-6 Intruder

Squadron History

Attack 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.

Firebirds Mural, November 1982
Firebirds Mural, November 1982

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.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

The squadron's insignia was approved by CNO on 21 January 1971. Colors for the insignia were: a black background with a white border; the outline of the phoenix is red and the claws are black; white skull with shades of gray; and a black scroll with red lettering.

Nickname: Firebirds, 1970-1994.

ATKRON 304 Standard Patch
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch
 

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.

VA-304 Corsair II Patch
VA-304 Corsair II Type Patch
VA-304 A-6 Intruder Patch
VA-304 A-6 Intruder Patch
Commanding Officers
Commanding OfficerDate Assumed Command
CDR John H. Thompson1 July 1970
CDR Peter L. Hammes1 Jul 1971
CDR Jerry V. Kirk21 Jan 1973
CDR Raymond G. Blake20 Jul 1974
CDR David M. Boaz17 Jan 1976
CDR Matthew A. McCarthyJan 1978
CDR Frank J. Bender20 Oct 1979
CDR R. F. BushJun 1981
CDR D. B. AshworthMar 1983
CDR Thomas A. HearnSept 1984
CDR Donald K. Simmons20 Apr 1986
CDR Daniel R. Kestly26 Apr 1987
CDR Michael F. Dibello16 Oct 1988
CDR John R. Hines, Jr.20 May 1990
CDR Robert S. Mull, Jr.16 Nov 1991
CDR William A. Roig22 May1993
CDR Craig C. Groom25 Jun 1994
Aircraft Assignment
Type of AircraftDate Type First Received
A-4CJul 1970
A-7A6 Aug 1971
A-7BSep 1977
A-7ESep 1986
KA-6DJul 1988
A-6EAug 1988
Air Wing Assignments
Air WingTail CodeAssignment Date
CVWR-30ND1 Jul 1970
Unit Awards Received
Unit AwardInclusive DatesCovering Unit Award
MUC1 Nov 197330 Nov 1975
NAVE1 Jul 197430 Sep 1976
Rich Garrett, Plane Captain of the 1st Quarter 1973
Rich Garrett, Plane Captain of the 1st Quarter 1973
VA-304 A-7 Corsair II in May 1980
VA-304 A-7 Corsair II in May 1980
Squadron's A-7 Corsair II's on the tarmack with San Francisco in the background in May 1980
Squadron's A-7 Corsair II's on the tarmack with San Francisco in the background in May 1980

Documents

Links

Credit:All photos provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri. Also provided were additional unit details including Commanding Officers.