On July 1st, 1938 the compliment of squadrons attached to the USS Ranger (CV-4) after her 1934 commissioning were officially designated the Ranger Air Group. VF-4, VB-4, VS-41, and VS-42 would initiate Carrier Air Wing One’s lineage while conducting carrier suitability trials from San Diego to Monterey, CA. The Ranger was the Navy’s first vessel designed and constructed as an aircraft carrier and paved the way for the creation of Air Groups. 2013 also marked 50 years since Carrier Air Group ONE (CVG-1) was officially designated Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1) on December 20th, 1963.
World War II
Operating in the Atlantic when the US entered WWII, the USS Ranger participated in the North African campaigns OPERATION TORCH and OPERATION LEADER. OPERATION TORCH was the most ambitious naval operation yet conducted in the European-African Theater at that time. The major responsibility was anti-sub patrol and escort duty in the North Atlantic. VF-9 and VF-41 launched towards French Morocco and found themselves dog fighting French Pilots, some who became Aces against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of France. The Ranger’s fighters accounted for 16 French fighters, strafed enemy ships and airfields, and gave air coverage to landing operations. Attacks on shore batteries and French ships continued in support of Allied Forces and showed the German-dominated French military leaders the striking power of the carrier task force. On Oct 4, 1943 OPERATION LEADER initiated a carrier based attack on the Nazi-held Norwegian Coast with Ranger operating as part of the British Home Fleet. The Attack was a complete surprise to the Germans that endangered submarines and supply ships, causing fear for repeated surprise attacks by the Allied Forces. This also marked the end of Ranger’s combat career as she became a training carrier for the remainder of the war.
In October of 1944, Air Group FOUR was designated CVG-4 and transferred to the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) in Saipan. They participated in the Allied invasions of several Philippine islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and became a part of the carrier-based attacks on Tokyo in November 1944. While still in theater, they transferred to the USS Essex (CV-9) and were credited with sinking a 4-Ship Japanese convoy. The group also survived a Kamikaze attack on November 25, 1944 and assisted with rescue efforts after the "Halsey Typhoon."
VMF-124 and VMF-213 would replace the Top Hatters of VB-4 in December of 1944, marking the first Marine squadrons to augment carrier air groups during WWII. CVG-4’s action against Japan earned them two Presidential Unit Citations. They completed their last WWII cruise in March, credited with 13 possible and 83 airborne kills, destroying or damaging 297 aircraft on the ground, and sinking of 2 Japanese destroyers, 2 destroyer escorts, 13 merchant ships, with damage to countless others. While home, CVG-4 transferred to the USS Tarawa (CV-40) at NAS Atlantic City and transferred to her new homeport at NAS San Diego. In 1946 the CNO directed new post-war organization requirements and CVG-4 was designated Attack Carrier Air Group ONE (CVAG-1).
CVAG-1 went through a two year period of training operations followed by another Westpac aboard USS Tarawa throughout most of 1946-1947 and a 1948 World Cruise. With the 1950’s approached the transition to the jet age and VF-11 received their first F2H-1 Banshee. VF-11 and VF-12 would transition to the F2H-2’s and the air wing would depart on a Med Cruise aboard the USS Coral Sea (CVB-43). From 1946 to 1957, Air Wing ONE served aboard nine different carriers. They would cruise the Med on the USS Wasp, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and World Cruise on the USS Midway in 1955. CVG-1 also joined the first “Super Carrier” USS Forrestal in 1956 for an emergency deployment to the 6th Fleet to support the evacuation of US Nationals in response to the Suez crisis, and returned to the Med the following year.
A sailor points at a submarine periscope spotted after two torpedoes were launched at the USS Ranger during OPERATION TORCH.
Vietnam War Era
Between June 1966 and February 1967 CVW-1 cruised aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) to conduct combat operations in the Tonkin Gulf. “Tarbox” consisted of VF-14 and VF32’s F-4 Phantoms; VA-12, VA-72 and VA-172’s A-4 Skyhawks, VAH-10 A-3B andVQ-1 EA-3B Skywarriors, VAW-12 E-1 Tracers, VFP-62 RF-8G Crusaders, and HC-2 UH-2A Seasprites. They began without a warm-up period from Yankee Station on August 10th ending their first line period on September 12th. VA-72 led the first successful strike against a surface-to-air SA-2 missile installation in North Vietnam. Numerous other strikes destroyed North Vietnamese targets, but not without consequence. During the first line period, a total of four aircraft were lost with all but one crewmember recovered who was KIA. After a port visit in Yokosuka, Japan and dry dock repairs at NAS Atsugi, Tarbox began the second line period from October 11th to November 1st. VA-172 and VA-72 each lost an aircraft whose pilots were captured and held as POW’s. VA-12 lost two A-4’s to a midair collision and killing both pilots, including CO, CDR Robert C. Frosio. After a Subic Bay port visit, they returned for a third line period from November 24th to December 27th. VA-172 lost two A-4’s to SAM’s in the Red River delta area. Bother pilots were KIA including CO, CDR Bruce A. Nystrom. Two weeks later a VA-72 A-4 was shot down with pilot KIA during a 42-plane Alpha strike in North Vietnam. That same day an E-1B from VAW-12 ditched in the South China Sea, killing three of the five crew members.
Following one last Med cruise aboard the Roosevelt, CVW-1 moved on to the USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) for its shakedown cruise with CAG Marr recording her first trap on October 22, 1968. Throughout the 1970’s until 1981 CVW-1 made multiple cruises aboard CVA-67 to the Med, Norlant, and Westlant. Tarbox introduced the Navy’s newest tactical aircraft, the F-14A Tomcat with VF-14 and VF-32 to the Mediterranean in 1975. The air wing saw several other changes with the addition of the S-3A Viking with VS-22, EA-6B Prowler with VAQ-133, and E-2C with VAW-125.
1980’s and Libya
CVW-1 joined the USS America (CV-66) for a 1982-83 Med and Indian Ocean cruise that saw a record setting 102 consecutive day underway period while on GONZO station in the Indian Ocean. Both the ship and air wing were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations in support of American peacekeeping efforts in Lebanon. The Tarbox/America team returned to Norfolk after safely amassing over 20,000 hours and 8,700 sorties. In April of 1984 the strike group headed to the unrest in the Persian Gulf area at one point recording 102 continuous days underway. They participated in DISPLAY DETERMINATION interacting with Italian, French, Turkish, Belgian, and USAF units while operating in the Med.
The Tarbox/USS America team conducted combat operations from the Gulf of Sidra during the 1986 attack on Libya along with the USS Coral Sea. Air wing aircraft were virtually unchallenged by Libyan Fighters south of Khadafy’s "Line of Death." In March 1986 air wing F-14's were fired on by Libyan SAM's and AAA while flying CAP's for OPERATION PRARIE FIRE. “First and Foremost” conducted joint strikes on terrorist staging sites in Tripoli and Benghazi with USAF F-111’s. VA-34’s A-6E Intruders attacked and damaged a Libyan FACM Class La Combattante II fast attack missile craft with a AGM-84 Harpoon missiles (the first combat employment Harpoon). On the night of 14 April 1986, the Blue Blasters conducted a low-level, high-speed attack against the Benina airfield and military barracks in Benghazi. VA-46 also provided air-to-surface Shrike and Harm missile strikes against Libyian radar missile sites while VMAQ-2 EA-6B’s provided electronic jamming.
Gulf War and the 1990’s
The Tarbox/USS America team was the only carrier battle group to launch strikes in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM from both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Tarbox Aircraft began combat operations over Iraq logging more than 1,300 sorties with VF-102 logging more than 1400 combat flight hours alone. VS-32 became the first S-3 Squadron to engage and destroy a hostile vessel, an Iraqi gunboat hit by three 500-lbs bombs and vectored to the target by the USS Valley Forge (CG-50).
Tarbox began a third Med deployment in three years in August of 1993 aboard the America. The Air Wing conducted humanitarian operations off the coast of Bosnia-Herzegovina supporting OPERATION’s PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT. In late October they supported RESTOR HOPE off the coast of Mogadishu, Somalia and by Mid-December shifted to OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq. The 1995–96 Med cruise commenced with an emergency sortie to the Adriatic Sea for OPERATION DELIBERATE FORCE followed by a return to the Gulf in support of SOUTHERN WATCH. Placement of U.S. ground forces in Bosnia, led to a 4,000 mile transit in just 9 days to the Adriatic in December where the strike group remained until returning home. Tarbox amassed over 26,000 flight hours and 11,500 arrested landings on America’s final cruise and CVW-1 moved to the USS George Washington (CVN-73) strike group.
Tarbox and GW launched into an intense work-up cycle in 1997 that included the multinational BRIGHT STAR Exercise with Egyptian Air and Special Operations Forces. This included 3,200 fixed and rotary wing sorties from seven different nations. On her third deployment from October 1997 to April 1998, the GW remained in the Persian Gulf enforcing a No Fly Zone along with the Nimitz as part of SOUTHERN WATCH. The two carriers provided 50 strike aircraft apiece with their new LANTIRN system working with RAF Harrier GR7's from the HMS Invincible.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, CVW-1 embarked on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on September 19th. On the night of 4 October 2001, Tarbox launched the initial strikes of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM from the North Arabian Sea against Al-Qaeda. By the end of 2001, CVW-1 flew 7,086 sorties and dropped 800 tons of ordnance. The TR spent 159 consecutive days at sea, breaking the record for the longest period underway since WWII. She returned to her homeport in March, 2002 and awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, 2001 Battenberg Cup, and 2001 Battle E. CVW-1 deployed on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) for continued support of OEF and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. During these combined operations, Tarbox Aircrew logged more than 11,000 sorties resulting in nearly 20,000 flight hours with a sortie completion rate of 99 percent. The following 2006 deployment delivered 65,000 pounds of ordnance, including 137 precision weapons in support of OEF and OIF. The air wing completed more than 8,300 sorties, of which 2,186 were combat missions, flying more than 22,500 hours and logged 6,916 traps. Tarbox also completed split-deployment operations by sending air wing EA-6B Prowlers and F/A-18 Hornet aircraft to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq providing shore-based combat support to coalition forces in Iraq and sea-based combat support to coalition forces in Afghanistan. CVW-1 provided the first combat air support to OPERATION’s ENDURING FREEDOM, MEDUSA and MOUNTAIN FURY.
During the 2007 Med deployment, CVW-1 aircraft flew more than 7,500 missions, 1,676 which were combat, and logged more than 20,300 hours and 6,500 arrested landings. They dropped 73 air-to-ground weapons and fired 4,149 rounds of 20-mm ammunition in support of ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the air wing again sent squadron detachments to operate directly out of Al Asad Air Base. A historic first was accomplished with the recovery and launch of French Rafale F2 Fighter, witnessed by the French CNO and US Ambassador to France. Finally, the 2007 deployment marked the final cruise for squadron VS-32 and its S-3 Viking aircraft.
During an extended maintenance and training period for the “Big E,” air wing squadrons amassed more than 20,000 mishap-free tactical flight hours which included four carrier flight deck certifications. The “Big E” and Tarbox returned to theater in 2011 with CVW-1 aircraft flying more than 1,450 sorties in support of OEF and OPERATION NEW DAWN in Iraq. A quick turnaround following the 2011 deployment presented a compressed Fleet Response Training Plan to include Air Wing Fallon, COMPTUEX, JTFEX and BOLD ALIGATOR 12. Departing from Norfolk on March 11, 2012 the USS Enterprise commenced its 25th and final deployment and Tarbox quickly returned to an established battle rhythm. The air wing provided successful CAS, EW, and ABCC support to ground troops with 2,241 OEF combat sorties. As a whole, Tarbox flew more than 9,400 sorties with over 8,700 traps, participated in the EAGER LION multinational exercise hosted by Jordan, the IRON AGATE joint exercise with the UAE and USAF and Dissimilar Aircraft Training (DACT) with the Italian Navy and Air Force.
Air Power Demo October 2012
USS Theodore Roosevelt July 2015
After back to back deployments aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), and upon her decommissioning, CVW-1 became part of Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CSG-12) and was once again assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in August, 2013 at the completion of her mid-life RCOH. The landscape of the air wing changed with VAQ-137’s transition to the EA-18G Growler and the welcoming of VAW-125, the first squadron to transition to the E-2D. CVW-1 closed out 2013 on the heels of a NIFC-CA training evolution that would introduce the first ever integrated exercise between the CVW-1 and CSG-12. 2014 afforded itself to an intense workup cycle for CVW-1’s 2015 around-the-world deployment to support OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE. CVW-1 embarked on the Roosevelt on March 9th, 2015 and departed Norfolk for the Arabian Gulf. From April 16th until October 2nd, Tarbox flew 1842 combat sorties in Iraq and Syria and employed 1113 precision guided munitions, totaling more than 510 tons of ordnance, in the fight against ISIL. Tarbox aircraft and personnel returned to their home bases upon Roosevelt’s return to its new home port of San Diego, California on November 23rd, 2015.
2016 CARRIER AIR WING ONE SQUADRONS:
VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron 11 “Red Rippers”
VFA-136 Strike Fighter Squadron 136 “Knighthawks”
VFA-211 Strike Fighter Squadron 211 “Fighting Checkmates”
VFA-81 Strike Fighter Squadron 81 “Sunliners”
VAQ-137 Electronic Attack Squadron 137 “Rooks”
VAW-125 Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 “Tigertails”
VAW-126 Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 “Seahawks”
VRC-40 Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 “Rawhides”
HSC-11 Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 11 “Dragonslayers”
Ranger Air Group established on July 1st, 1938
CV-4 USS RANGER Jul, 1938 – Jul, 1938 (EastPac Fleet Review)
CV-4 USS RANGER Jan, 1939 – Apr, 1939 (Cuba, Norfolk)
CV-4 USS RANGER Oct, 1939 – Dec, 1939 (Caribbean)
CV-4 USS RANGER Oct, 1940 - Dec, 1940 (Bermuda, Argentina)
CV-5 USS YORKTOWN May, 1941 – Oct, 1941 (Atlantic Neutrality Patrols)
CV-4 USS RANGER Oct, 1941 – Dec, 1941 (Caribbean)
CV-4 USS RANGER Dec, 1941 - Mar, 1942 (East Atlantic)
CV-4 USS RANGER Oct, 1942 – Dec, 1942 (OPERATION TORCH)
CV-4 USS RANGER Mar, 1943 – Jul, 1943 (Atlantic, Newfoundland)
Ranger Air Group redesignated CVG-4 on Aug.3, 1943
CV-4 USS RANGER Aug, 1943 – Dec, 1943 (OPERATION LEADER)
CV-17 USS BUNKER HILL Nov, 1944 – Nov, 1944 (Philippines, Saipan)
CV-9 USS ESSEX Nov, 1944 – Dec, 1944 (West Pac Luzon Strikes)
CV-9 USS ESSEX Dec, 1944 – Jan, 1945 (Formosa, Okinawa)
CV-9 USS ESSEX Feb, 1945 – Mar, 1945 (Japan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa)
CV-40 TARAWA Feb, 1946 - Apr, 1946 (Caribbean)
CV-40 TARAWA Jun, 1946 - Jul, 1946 (Norfolk to San Diego)
CVG-4 redesignated CVAG-1 on Nov.15, 1946
CV-40 TARAWA Aug, 1946 - Apr, 1947 (WestPac)
CVAG-1 redesignated CVG-1 on Sep.1, 1948
CV-40 TARAWA Sep, 1948 - Feb, 1949 (World Cruise)
CV-47 PHILIPPINE SEA Sep, 1949 – Oct, 1949 (Caribbean)
CV-47 PHILIPPINE SEA Feb, 1950 – Mar, 1950 (Caribbean)
CVB-43 CORAL SEA Mar, 1951 - Oct, 1951 (Med)
CV-18 WASP May, 1952 - Oct, 1952 (NorLant, Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Jun, 1953 - Dec, 1953 (Med)
CVA-41 MIDWAY Dec, 1954 - Jul, 1955 (World Cruise)
CVA-59 FORRESTAL Nov, 1956 - Dec, 1956 (Azores)
CVA-59 FORRESTAL Jan, 1957 - Jul, 1957 (Med)
CVA-59 FORRESTAL Sep, 1957 - Oct, 1957 (NATO, STRIKE BACK)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Feb, 1959 - Sep, 1959 (Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Jan, 1960 - Aug, 1960 (Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Feb, 1961 - Aug, 1961 (Med)
CVAN-65 ENTERPRISE Feb, 1962 - Apr, 1962 (SoLant)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Sep, 1962 - Apr, 1963 (Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Nov, 1963 - Dec, 1963 (WestLant)
CVG-1 redesignated CVW-1 on Dec.20, 1963
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Apr, 1964 - Dec, 1964 (Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Jun, 1965 - Dec, 1965 (Med)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Jan, 1966 - Feb, 1966 (Caribbean)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Jun, 1966 - Feb, 1967 (Vietnam)
CVA-42 F. D. ROOSEVELT Aug, 1967 - May, 1968 (Med)
CVA-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Nov, 1968 - Dec, 1968 (Guantanamo)
CVA-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Apr, 1969 - Dec, 1969 (Med)
CVA-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Sep, 1970 - Mar, 1971 (Med)
CVA-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Nov, 1971 - May, 1972 (Med)
CVA-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Apr, 1973 - Dec, 1973 (Med)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Jun, 1975 - Jan, 1976 (Med)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Sep, 1976 - Nov, 1976 (NorLant)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Jan, 1977 - Aug, 1977 (Med)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Jun, 1978 - Feb, 1979 (Med)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Aug, 1980 - Mar, 1981 (Med)
CV-66 AMERICA May, 1982 - Jul, 1982 (SoLant)
CV-66 AMERICA Aug, 1982 - Nov, 1982 (NorLant, Med)
CV-66 AMERICA Dec, 1982 - Jun, 1983 (Med, Indian Ocean)
CV-66 AMERICA Apr, 1984 - Nov, 1984 (Med, Indian Ocean)
CV-66 AMERICA Aug, 1985 - Oct, 1985 (NorLant)
CV-66 AMERICA Mar, 1986 - Sep, 1986 (Med, Libya)
CV-66 AMERICA Mar, 1988 - May, 1988 (SoLant)
CV-66 AMERICA Feb, 1989 - Apr, 1989 (NorLant)
CV-66 AMERICA May, 1989 - Nov, 1989 (Med, Indian Ocean)
CV-66 AMERICA Dec, 1990 - Apr, 1991 (Gulf)
CV-66 AMERICA Aug, 1991 - Oct, 1991 (NORTH STAR, NorLant)
CV-66 AMERICA Dec, 1991 - Jun, 1992 (Med)
CV-66 AMERICA Aug, 1993 - Feb, 1994 (Med)
CV-66 AMERICA Aug, 1995 - Feb, 1996 (Med, Persian Gulf)
CVN-73 WASHINGTON Oct, 1997 - Apr, 1998 (Med, Persian Gulf)
CV-67 JOHN F. KENNEDY Sep, 1999 - Mar, 2000 (Med, Gulf)
CVN-71 ROOSEVELT Sep, 2001 - Mar, 2002 (Med, Northern Arabian Sea)
CVN-65 ENTERPRISE Aug, 2003 - Feb, 2004 (Med, Gulf)
CVN-65 ENTERPRISE May, 2006 - Nov, 2006 (Med, Gulf)
CVN-65 ENTERPRISE Jul, 2007 - Dec, 2007 (Med, Gulf, North Arabian Sea)
CVN-65 ENTERPRISE Jan, 2011 - Jul, 2011 (Med, Gulf, North Arabian Sea)
CVN-65 ENTERPRISE Mar, 2012 - Nov, 2012 (Med, Gulf, North Arabian Sea)
CVN-71 T. ROOSEVELT Mar, 2015 - Nov, 2015 (Med, Gulf, North Arabian Sea)