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VAW-122 Insignia
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Service history
Active 1 April 1967 - 31 March 1996
Part of Carrier Air Wing 6
Nickname "Steeljaws"
Battles USS Liberty, Vietnam, Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Provide Comfort

VAW-122 (aka 'STEELJAWS', colloquially the Fightin'-Bitin' Steejaws) was a U.S. Atlantic Coast VAW squadron (Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron) that was stood up on 1 April 1967 and dis-established March 30, 1996. When ashore, VAW-122 was stationed aboard NAS Norfolk, VA. During its 30 years of existence, the high-tempo Steeljaws were deployed around the world and saw action from Vietnam to Desert Storm, conducting operations from the Arctic to the tropics. The Steeljaws conducted Airborne Early Warning, Air Defense, Air Intercept Control, ISR, NCTR activity, Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C4I), Strike Control, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Drug Interdiction, Forward Air Control (FAC) handoff, Air Traffic Control, Netcentric Warfare, Data Link, and other missions.


Originally equipped with the E-2A Hawkeye, VAW-122 was first on the scene, establishing communications and directing fighter coverage for the USS Liberty in the Mediterranean in June 1967 after the intelligence-gathering ship was attacked by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats. During a 1968 deployment on board the USS America off Vietnam, VAW-122 crews assisted a VF-33 F-4 Phantom crew in downing a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter as well as controlling interdiction strikes against North Vietnam.

Grumman E-2A 152485 VAW-122 Independence 27.09.69

Grumman E-2A Hawkeye of VAW-122 deployed on USS Independence CVA-62 in September 1969

After a 1970 deployment to the Mediterranean during the Jordanian crisis with CVW-7 on board the USS Independence, VAW-122 upgraded to the somewhat more capable E-2B. The squadron's next two deployments to the Mediterranean returned its crews to international crises—the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1974 Cyprus Crisis.

In April 1975, VAW-122 upgraded to the definitive E-2C Hawkeye. In 1978, the squadron rejoined after a Pacific deployment embarked in USS Kitty Hawk CVW-6 and over the next 13 years deployed to the Arabian Sea, Mediterranean, and North Atlantic on board the Independence and the USS Forrestal. During the 1983 deployment, VAW-122 supported combat operations in Grenada and Lebanon, and, on its last combat carrier deployment in 1991, supported Operation Provide Comfort over Iraq during and subsequent to Operation Desert Storm. Throughout its operational lifetime, VAW-122 participated in numerous cold-war, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, African, Indian Ocean, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern operations, supported several several NASA Space Shuttle launches, and devised a variety of original operational tactics and procedures (such as performing ABCCC missions in lieu of other airborne assets' doing so).

VAW-122 made its first major drug-interdiction deployment as a squadron to the Caribbean/Central America in 1990 (previously it had been smaller detachments of shorter duration beginning in 1983 with Operation Thunderbolt), and in 1992 became permanently assigned to this role. By 1996, the unit had completed eight deployments in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific areas, conducting some missions deep over South or Central America, and far into the Pacific Ocean—and was credited with the seizure of more than 16 metric tons of illegal drugs.

VAW-122 was disestablished at NAS Norfolk on 31 March 1996. Its drug-interdiction mission and aircraft were assumed by a new reserve squadron at that time, VAW-77, stationed at NAS Atlanta, GA.


Group DatesLocation
USS America (CVA-66/CVAW-6)1 April 196720 September 1967MED *
USS America (CVA-66/CVAW-6)10 April 196816 December 1968Vietnam
USS Independence (CVA-62/CVAW-7)8 July 19701 February 1971MED
USS Independence (CVA-62/CVAW-7)16 September 197115 March 1972MED
USS Independence (CVA-62/CVAW-7)21 June 197319 January 1974MED
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-7)19 July 197431 January 1975MED
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63/CVW-11)25 October 1977May 1978WESTPAC
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-6)24 June 197914 December 1979MED
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-6)19 November 198010 June 1981IO
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-6)7 June 198221 December 1982MED
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-6)18 October 198311 April 1984MED/N. ATLANTIC**
USS Independence (CV-62/CVW-6)16 October 198419 February 1985IO
USS Forrestal (CV-59/CVW-6)2 June 198610 November 1986MED
USS Forrestal (CV-59/CVW-6)April 1988September 1988MED
USS Forrestal (CV-59/CVW-6)4 November 198913 April 1990MED
CTG 4.1 OPS27 August 199025 October 1990Panama
USS Forrestal (CV-59/CVW-6)31 May 199121 December 1991MED***
CJTF-4 OPS11 November 199228 December 1992Panama
CJTF-4 OPS7 April 199314 May 1993Panama
CJTF-4 OPS19 August 199311 October 1993GTMO
CJTF-4 OPS3 March 19943 August 1994GTMO/PR
DIRJIATFE OPS14 November 199423 December 1994NSRR, PR
DIRJIATFE OPS9 May 19951 July 1995NSRR, PR
SOUTHCOM OPS10 October 199530 November 1995CURACAO
DIRJIATFE OPS1 December 199520 December 1995NSRR, PR


Former CO'sEdit

CDR T. E. Newark, USNApril 1967August 1968
CDR B. K. Hannula, USNAugust 1968July 1969
CDR J. E. Hoch, JR, USNJuly 1969August 1970
CDR D. W. Rice, USNAugust 1970April 1971
CDR W. Hogan, USNApril 1971April 1972
CDR J. Ward, USNApril 1972March 1973
CDR G. L. MacQuirre, USNMarch 1973February 1974
CDR C. Norrington, USNFebruary 1974January 1975
CDR M. F. Hayes, USNJanuary 1975January 1976
CDR K. C. Petroske, USNJanuary 1976April 1977
CDR L. F. Permenter, USNApril 1977July 1978
CDR R. J. Malla, USNJuly 1978July 1979
CDR B. G. Roberson, USNJuly 1979October 1980
CDR R. B. Teague, USNOctober 1980January 1982
CDR B. C. Gohman, USNJanuary 1982June 1983
CDR C. M. Kraft, USNJune 1983September 1984
CDR J. W. Heineman, USNSeptember 1984March 1986
CDR J. R. Porter, USNMarch 1986July 1987
CDR T. "DU" Lang, USNJuly 1987January 1989
CDR J. Grosel, USNJanuary 1989June 1990
CDR V. C. Huber, USNJune 1990September 1991
CDR T. L. Tippin, USNSeptember 1991November 1992
CDR G. J. Pitman, USNNovember 1992October 1994
CDR C. W. Dossel, USNOctober 1994March 1996


  • Dossel, Will. "The History of VAW-122," The Hook Summer 1996
  • Burgess, Rick "Lest We Forget: VAW-122" Naval Institute Proceedings September 2003

See alsoEdit

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