VA-304 "Firebirds" Attack Squadron 304
VA-304 A-7 "Firebirds" Patch
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch
with an A-7 Corsair superimposed
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch after transition to A-6 Intruder
Attack Squadron (VA-304) was established at Naval Air Station Alameda on 1 July 1970. The squadron consists of twelve Ling-Temco-Vought A-7B Corsair II's. VA-304 is a squadron of Reserve Carrier Air Wing Thirty (CVWR-30), also headquartered at NAS Alameda.
Firebirds Mural, November 1982
Since its inception, the squadron has built a reputation as the performance leader in the Naval Air Reserve Community. In LATWINGPAC Bombing Derby competition, held at NAS Fallon, NV, VA-304 captured the Silver Bomb Award as the best A-7A/B squadron in four of the six derbies in which it competed.
VA-304 has received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award, presented by the Chief of Naval Reserve to the most outstanding Naval Air Tailhook squadron in the United States. In addition, the squadron has twice won the Noel Davis trophy as the most efficient attack squadron in the Naval Air Reserve.
VA-304 was awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) by Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf for the period of 1 November 1973 through 30 November 1975, for distinguishing itself by meritorious achievement as the Outstanding Naval Air Reserve Squadron.
Attack Squadron 304 was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award (Navy "E" Ribbon) for the period 1 July 1974 through 30 September 1976, winning the fleet-wide eighteen month competitive cycle of exercises, testing all phases of battle readiness.
During the tenure of Commanding Officer CDR John R. Hines Jr. (20 May 1990 - 16 November 1991) VA-304 was awarded the Golden Anchor for retention and two consecutive "Silver Bullet" Awards for Ordnance Department Excellence.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
The squadron's insignia was approved by CNO on 21 January 1971. Colors for the insignia were: a black background with a white border; the outline of the phoenix is red and the claws are black; white skull with shades of gray; and a black scroll with red lettering.
Nickname: Firebirds, 1970-1994.
ATKRON 304 Standard Patch
Chronology of Significant Events
1 Jul 1970: VA-304, a reserve squadron, established as part of a reorganization intended to increase the combat readiness of the Naval Air Reserve Force. Elements of reserve unit, VA-20G3, were used to form the newly established VA-304.
28 Sep 1982: the squadron exceeded eight years and 27,500 accident free flight hours. This safety milestone is the second longest sustained record for both Active Fleet and Naval Air Reserve A-7 squadrons.
May 1987: VA-304 operated from the Canadian Forces Base at Edmonton, Alberta, while participating in exercise Rendezvous 87-Bold Warrior. The exercise was a mock full-scale battle between elements of the Canadian Armed Forces with VA-304 acting as an aggressor force.
Aug 1988: Attack Squadron 304 transitioned to the Grumman A-6E Intruder, becoming the first Naval Air Reserve squadron to do so.
VA-304 Corsair II Type Patch
VA-304 A-6 Intruder Patch
|Commanding Officer||Date Assumed Command|
|CDR John H. Thompson||1 July 1970|
|CDR Peter L. Hammes||1 Jul 1971|
|CDR Jerry V. Kirk||21 Jan 1973|
|CDR Raymond G. Blake||20 Jul 1974|
|CDR David M. Boaz||17 Jan 1976|
|CDR Matthew A. McCarthy||Jan 1978|
|CDR Frank J. Bender||20 Oct 1979|
|CDR R. F. Bush||Jun 1981|
|CDR D. B. Ashworth||Mar 1983|
|CDR Thomas A. Hearn||Sept 1984|
|CDR Donald K. Simmons||20 Apr 1986|
|CDR Daniel R. Kestly||26 Apr 1987|
|CDR Michael F. Dibello||16 Oct 1988|
|CDR John R. Hines, Jr.||20 May 1990|
|CDR Robert S. Mull, Jr.||16 Nov 1991|
|CDR William A. Roig||22 May1993|
|CDR Craig C. Groom||25 Jun 1994|
|Type of Aircraft||Date Type First Received|
|A-7A||6 Aug 1971|
Air Wing Assignments
|Air Wing||Tail Code||Assignment Date|
|CVWR-30||ND||1 Jul 1970|
Unit Awards Received
|Unit Award||Inclusive Dates||Covering Unit Award|
|MUC||1 Nov 1973||30 Nov 1975|
|NAVE||1 Jul 1974||30 Sep 1976|
Rich Garrett, Plane Captain of the 1st Quarter 1973
VA-304 A-7 Corsair II in May 1980
Squadron's A-7 Corsair II's on the tarmack with San Francisco in the background in May 1980
Credit:All photos provided by Mr. Robert M. Cieri. Also provided were additional unit details including Commanding Officers.