VA-303 "Golden Hawks" Attack Squadron 303
Standard Squadron Patch
Strike Fighter Squadron 303
"Golden Hawks" patch
USN Hornet Type Patch
Attack Squadron (VA-303) was established at Naval Air Station Alameda on 1 July 1970. Disestablished on 31 December 1994. The first squadron to be assigned the VA-303 and VFA-303 designation.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
The squadron's insignia was approved by CNO on 23 February 1972. Colors for the hawk insignia are: a blue background outlined by two gold circles with white diamonds between the gold circles; white and red bridge; gold hawk with black markings and a red lightning bolt eminating from its beak; the Corsair II design is white; blue scrolls outlined in gold with gold lettering. A modification to the above insignia was approved by CNO on 24 April 1984. The bridge design was replaced by brown mountains with white markings; the Corsair II design was replaced by a white hornet and the Attack Squadron 303 designation was changed to Strike Fighter Squadron 303. All the other colors remained the same as the previous insignia.
Nickname: Golden Hawks, 1972-1994.
Chronology of Significant Events
1 July 1970: VA-303, a reserve squadron, established as part of a reorganization of the reserves intended to increase the combat readiness of the Naval Air Reserve Force.
April 1971: VA-303 was the first reserve squadron to transition to the A-7A Corsair II.
November 1975: The squadron deployed aboard Ranger (CV 61) for the annual active duty training and as part of CVWR-30's tactical air mobilization test and the operational readiness exercise/inspection to ensure the squadron was seaworthy and combat ready.
19 October 1985: VFA-303 was the first reserve squadron to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet. When VA-303 became the first Naval Air Reserve Squadron to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, the change over took place at NAS Alameda, prior to the squadron leaving for NAS Lemoore.
25 September - 20 November 1990: A detachment of the squadron's F/A-18 Hornets and personnel, along with VFA-305, joined CVW-11 aboard Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) for her transit from Norfolk to Alameda, via Cape Horn.
November 1990: A detachment of squadron aircraft and personnel deployed to NWC China Lake in direct support of Operation Desert Shield. Provided critical real world electronic warfare test and evaluation missions requiring aircraft fully functional with electronic warfare, Harm missile and electronic countermeasure suites.
1993: In early 1993 the squadron added the roles of Adversary and Fleet Support to its primary mission.
VA-303 Corsair II Type Patch
|NAS Alameda||1 July 1970|
|NAS Leemore||1 January 1984|
|Commanding Officer||Date Assumed Command|
|CDR William E. Nelson||1 July 1970|
|CDR Philip H. Benz||17 July 1971|
|CDR Olin A. Gray||21 January 1973|
|CDR Reid T. Melville||14 December 1974|
|CDR Alfred F. Talley||19 June 1976|
|CDR Thomas E. Gehman||17 June 1978|
|CDR Donald P. Smith||21 June 1980|
|CDR Harold Shorr||1982|
|CDR Richard A. Banks||23 July 1983|
|CDR Robert R. Greathouse||1984|
|CDR Jon L. Green||October 1985|
|CDR Scott H. Davis||11 April 1987|
|CDR John S. Wood||22 October 1988|
|CDR Charles B. Askey||19 May 1990|
|CDR Barry C. Douglas||18 May 1991|
|CDR Ronald J. Smeltzer||19 September 1992|
|CDR Jeffrey L. Schram||8 January 1994|
|Type of Aircraft||Date Type First Received|
|A-4C||1 July 1970|
|A-7A||5 April 1971|
|A-7B||11 August 1977|
|F/A-18A||19 October 1985|
Air Wing Assignments
|Air Wing||Tail Code||Assignment Date|
|CVWR-30||ND||1 July 1970|
Unit Awards Received
|Unit Award||Inclusive Dates||Covering Unit Award|
|NAVE||1 July 1971||31 December 1972|
|1 January 1987||31 December 1987|
|1 January 1989||31 December 1989|
|1 January 1991||31 December 1991|
VA-303 Golden Hawk's A-7 Corsair II taxiing for takeoff at NAS Alameda in February of 1980.
The Oakland Estuary is in the background, beyond that is the Oakland Naval Supply Center
Credit:Images provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri.