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Command History
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81
VFA-81 Menu

Command history 

The squadron was originally established as Attack Squadron (VA) 66 on July 1, 1955. On the same day, it was redesignated the “Crusaders” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 81, an all-weather fighter interceptor squadron flying the F9F-8B Cougar with our first insignia, a black cougar on a light blue background. The squadron’s first deployment was with CVG-17, in late 1956, aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42/CVA 42) in response to the Suez Crisis.

On 21 November 1963, the squadron was renamed the “Sunliners” and a new insignia was approved consisting of a black background with the international orange "Sun Dial" design, adopting the motto “Anytime, Anyplace!”.

VA-81 was assigned to Carrier Air Group (CVG) 8 and made five deployments to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS Forrestal (CVA 59) between 1960 and 1966.

In February 1970, the squadron won the Navy Battle "E" for East Coast A-4 squadrons, and in May 1970, VA-81 transitioned to the A-7E Corsair II and was reassigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17.

On February 4, 1988, VA-81 transitioned to the F/A-18C Hornet and was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81.

The squadron made three deployments aboard USS Saratoga (CV 3) between 1990 and 1994.  On January 17, 1991, Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher was shot down and killed in action during the first night of Operation Desert Storm. That same night, the Sunliners scored the Navy's only two aerial victories over enemy fighters during the campaign by downing two Iraqi MiG-21s. VFA-81 returned to its homeport of Naval Air Station (NAS) Cecil Field, Florida, on March 27, 1991.

In 1996, VFA-81 cruised with CVW-17 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), followed by a deployment aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in 1998.  Following this deployment due to the closure of NAS Cecil Field in 1999, the squadron shifted its homeport to NAS Oceana, Virginia, where it is based to this day.

In 2000, 2001, and 2002, VFA-81 made three deployments aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. In 2004, VFA-81 made a single deployment aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67).

In 2007, VFA-81 was reassigned to CVW-11 in the Pacific Fleet and deployed aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) to the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.  In 2008, the squadron transitioned to the new F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Since transitioning to the F/A-18E Super Hornet, VFA-81 deployed in 2011, 2012, and 2014 aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), and aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in 2018 and 2021.  In 2022, VFA-81 completed a nine-month Mediterranean deployment, winning the Battle “E”, Safety “S”, and Retention Excellence Award.  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act  |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAPDoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Site Map  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Webmaster | Information quality | Public Use notice | Useful Links
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