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FIGHTER SQUADRON THREE ONE

This page is dedicated to VF-31 by the members of our association whom have served in VF-31.  The official VF-31 Navy site is located at http://www.vf31.navy.mil/index.html  For more information about VF-31, please see their web site.

As the second oldest fighter squadron operating in the U.S. Navy today, Fighter Squadron Thirty One has a rich history.  It’s beginnings can be traced to the commissioning of the VF-1B Shooting Stars in July, 1935, flying the Boeing F4B-4.  Two years later, the Shooting Stars changed squadron designations to VF-6 and switched aircraft to the F3F-2.  Between 1937 and 1943 the squadron flew the F3F-2 and two variants of the Grumman F4F Wildcat, ending with the F4F-4.  In July, 1943, VF-6 swapped designations with VF-3, The Felix Cat squadron, and began flying the F6F Hellcat.  Both squadrons claimed the Felix mascot and call-sign after the switch, which caused a controversy for the next three years.  Finally, in 1946, VF-3 became VF-3A, flying the F8F-1 Bearcat, while VF-6 was decommissioned.  The Chief of Naval Operations approved the official adoption of the Felix the Cat name and call-sign by VF-3A.  On August 7, 1948, VF-3A became the VF-31 Tomcatters.  For almost four years the Tomcatters flew the F9F-2 Panther, the squadron’s first jet aircraft.  From 1952 to 1957, VF-31 flew the F2H Banshee.  In 1957, the squadron switched to the F3H Demon, flying it through 1962.  For two years after this the Tomcatters flew the F-3B before transitioning to the F-4B Phantom.  After two years with the B model, the squadron switched to the F-4J, and flew this through 1981.  Then in 1982 the Tomcatters began flying the F-14A Tomcat. VF-31 flew the F-14A for ten years before switching to its current aircraft, the F-14D Super Tomcat, in 1992.

Through the years the Tomcatters and their predecessors have served on some of the Navy’s finest aircraft carriers, including the first, USS Langley (CV-1); the second, USS Lexington (CV-2); and the sixth, USS Enterprise (CV-6).  They were aboard USS Enterprise during the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as the Battles of Wake Island, Marcus Island, Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Eastern Solomons.  In 1980, VF-31 and USS Saratoga (CV-60) concluded a 24-year period of continuous service together, the longest in naval history.

The Tomcatters’ combat experience includes battles in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as regional conflicts all over the world.  In 1972, flying the F-4J Phantom, Tomcatter aircrew shot down a MiG-21 over North Vietnam and distinguished VF-31 as the only Navy fighter squadron to achieve aerial victories in three wars.

The Tomcatters currently fly the most capable and formidable strike fighter in the U.S. Navy, the F-14D Super Tomcat.  The Super Tomcat is capable of simultaneously detecting and destroying multiple enemy aircraft using the Phoenix, Sparrow, and Sidewinder missiles as well as its 20mm Vulcan cannon.  It possesses outstanding strike capabilities with a large fuel reserve and the ability to carry over 8,000 pounds of air-to-ground ordnance.  In addition, the incorporation of the Lantirn targeting system in 1997 makes the F-14D the most capable self-escort precision-strike aircraft in the fleet today. 

During its long history VF-31 has received the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” for the best fighter squadron in the Atlantic Fleet, the prestigious Admiral Joseph Clifton Award for the top fighter squadron in the Navy, and the Chief of Naval Operations Safety “S” award.

In late 1996, VF-31 returned from the second Wes-Pac deployment aboard USS Carl Vinson, CVN-70, to fly missions in the Arabian Gulf and Southern Iraq during operations Southern Watch and Desert Strike.  Afterwards, the Tomcatters returned to NAS Oceana, after residing there five years earlier before moving to NAS Miramar. 

The squadron remained part of Carrier Air Wing 14 on the west coast, and most recently returned from a deployment aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in December 1998, again in support of Operation Southern Watch.  

The squadron deployed in July 2002 to operate over Afghanistan for operation Enduring Freedom, and again over Iraq for operation Southern Watch.  During the return home, VF-31 and the battle group was diverted back for commencement of operation Iraqi Freedom.  VF-31 was individually credited for delivering over 230,000 pounds of ordnance with over 94% target acquisition and destruction rate to targets in Baghdad and southern vicinities to support coalition forces.  Vf-31 flew during the entire time from the first night of combat to the last day of the war.  The target acquisition and destruction rate was the highest in the history of aviation. VF-31 returned to Oceana in May 2003. 

The squadron remained part of Carrier Air Wing Fourteen until winter 2004 for deployments on the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis.

In December 2004, VF-31 became part of Carrier Air Wing Eight, aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71.  In September 2005, the last Tomcat deployment was aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt to the Arabian Gulf for a second time. During this six month deployment, VF-31 continued to command the skies over Iraq by achieving 100% target acquisition and destruction.  Over 4,000 pounds of ordnance as also delivered during this time.  In March 2005, the last F-14 deployment, VF-213 and VF-31 joined 22 F-14D for a historic fly over of NAS Oceana, Virginia.

Today, with a deep sense of pride in their accomplishments and the history that Felix represents, the Tomcatters of Fighter Squadron Thirty One stand ready to meet any challenge placed upon them.  FELIX RULES
 

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