VF-161 Chargers F-4B Phantom II
VF-161 was a Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Navy. The squadron made 7 deployments during the Vietnam War. VF-161 flew off the USS Midway CVA-41 for the last time on March 24, 1986. F-4 Phantom II squadrons no were longer deployed aboard aircraft carriers in the fleet. On April 1, 1986, the squadron was re-designated VFA-161. It was disestablished in 1987.
Chargers deploy with CVW-15 aboard USS Coral Sea
Between July 1967 and April 1969, the Chargers deployed to Vietnam for their second (29 July 1967 to 6 April 1968) and third (7 September 1968 to 18 April 1969) combat tours aboard the USS Coral Sea for a total of 3209 combat sorties.
One mission assignment for F-4B Phantom II aircraft was Carrier Air Protection or CAP. While the ship was underway traversing the Pacific Ocean an aircraft and aviator were sitting on a catapult ready for launch on a moment's notice for CAP. Typically, Russian TU-95 Bear bombers would make fly overs on all carriers crossing the Pacific Ocean. We were no exception.
The F-4B in the image at left below the TU-95 Bear is not alone. There are other Chargers around the Bear and a VFP-63 Eyes of the Fleet RF-8G Crusader above the Bear taking pictures of him while he is taking pictures of our ship.
During the Vietnam War, the F-4B Phantom II engaged the enemy in air-to-air combat and also proved to be a very effective strike attack aircraft. The VF-161 Charger at left delivers bombs on target. This alpha-strike role of the aircraft eventually led to the Navy re-designating Fighter Squadrons (VF) to Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA).
VF-161 fly F-4B aircraft on a 2nd Vietnam Combat Cruise
On December 29, 1967, LT J.F. Dowd and his RIO, LTJG G.K. Flint, of VF-161, were flying on a routine weather reconnaissance mission when antiaircraft fire hit their F-4B BuAer 150449 near a small island east or Haiphong. Both men ejected as the cockpit filled with smoke, and were spotted in minutes later by VA-25 aviators, flying A-1H Skyraiders. Guided to the scene by the "Spads" a rescue helicopter rescued Dowd and Flint who commented later: "It went like clockwork. Except, in the cold water it was an awfully slow clock."
Armed Forces Expeditionary Operations
During late February 1968 there was snow and ice on deck while conducting Operation Formation Star cold weather training in the Sea of Japan. This operation prepared men and machines for duty in March 1968 while USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), with VF-161 Chargers embarked, operated on station off the coast of Korea following the capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in January by North Korea.
Chargers deploy on thier 3rd Vietnam Combat Cruise
The squadron deployed again in September 1968 with Carrier Air Wing 15 (CVW-15) aboard Coral Sea again following a short turn-around period. The squadron had no aircraft or aviator losses this cruise.
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