Attack Squadron 85

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1 Feb 1951 to 30 Sep 1994
Location: US 2nd Fleet, NAS Oceana, Virgina Beach, VAmap
Surname/tag: Military_And_War, Atkron_85, VA_85
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A6A Intruder of VA-85 on board USS Kitty Hawk, Gulf of Tonkin, 1966

Wikipedia VA-85

Attack Squadron 85 started out as the 859th reserve squadron on February 1,1951, flying the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger. It was redesignated as VA-85 on February 4, 1953 and disestablished on September 30, 1994.[1]

Its first patch was a woodpecker wearing a life vest, astride a rocket, and carrying a bomb in his hand. The second patch was a winged bomb.

On May 7, 1958 the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) approved the Black Falcon patch that you see pictured above.

From its inception, the Black Falcons has flown two military aircraft. Three different models of the Douglas Skyraider were flown from March 1951 to March 1964.

A-1H Skyraider

This photo shows a A-1H Skyraider from the Black Falcons awaiting launch off of the USS Forrestal (CVA-59). All of the squadron's early deployments were off the Forrestal.

The squadron's second aircraft was the A-6 Intruder which included the A-6A, KA-6D aerial tanker, and A-6E.

VA-85 A6A Flight Line NAS Cubi Point, PI

The squadron flew in Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and provided support for recon missions over southern Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch.

While flying the A-6, the Black Falcons had 30 different Commanding Officers. Some were killed in combat, one was killed in a non-combat crash, and one was a POW during the Vietnam War.

The most distinguished officer of VA-85 was a bombardier/navigator, Lieutenant (jg) Brian E. Westin. During a combat mission over North Vietnam in April 1966, Westin's pilot, Lieutenant W. R. Westerman, was seriously wounded.

Westin helped Westerman pilot the aircraft over open water in hopes of being rescued. He made sure his pilot ejected safely|| before ejecting himself from the damaged aircraft.

First to be picked up was Westin who directed the rescue helicopter to his downed pilot. When they spotted Westerman, they also spotted a shark near the bleeding pilot. Noticing that his pilot could not get into the sling, Westin dove in to help his comrade.

When it came time to retrieve Westin, the hoist malfunctioned. He waved off the helicopter so his pilot could get urgent medical attention, and waited in shark infested waters until a second helicopter arrived.

For his bravery, Westin was awarded the Navy Cross. [2]

Naval Air Station Assignments

NAS Niagara Falls 01 Feb 1951
NAS Jacksonville 05 Apr 1951
NAS Quonset Point 26 Sep 1951
NAS Oceana 11 Jun 1952


Acquisition Date Link to Aircraft Profile
General Motors TBM-3E Avenger 1951 TBM-3E
Douglas AD-2 Skyraider 05 Mar 1951
Douglas AD-4 Skyraider Jul 1952
Douglas AD-6/A1-1H Skyraider Jan 1954 A-1
Grumman A-6A Intruder 06 Mar 1964 A6-A
Grumman A-6B Intruder 1968 A6-B
Grumman A-6C Intruder 1970 A6-C
Grumman KA-6D Intruder 18 Nov 1970 KA6D
Grumman A-6E Intruder 09 Dec 1971 A6-E


Air Wing
Ops Area
Apr 1953 - Oct 1953 CVG-8 USS Coral Sea (CVA 43)
Sep 1954 - Apr 1955 CVG-8 USS Lake Champlain (CVA 39)
Mar 1956 - Sep 1956 CVG-8 USS Intrepid (CVA 11)
Oct 1957 - Dec 1957 CVG-8 USS Ranger (CVA 61)
Mar 1958 - May 1958 CVG-8 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)
Jan 1960 - Aug 1960 CVG-8 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)
Feb 1961 - Aug 1961 CVG-8 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)
Aug 1962 - Mar 1963 CVG-8 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)
Oct 1965 - Jun 1966 CVW-11 USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) Vietnam War
Nov 1966 - Jun 1967 CVW-11 USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) Vietnam War
Apr 1968 - Dec 1968 CVW-6 USS America (CVA 66) Vietnam War
Aug 1969 - May 1970 CVW-14 USS Constellation (CVA 64) Vietnam War
Jan 1971 - Jul 1971 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CVA 59) Mediterranean
Sep 1972 - Jul 1973 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CVA 59) Mediterranean
Mar 1974 - Sep 1974 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)Cyprus Evacuation
Mar 1975 - Sep 1975 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CVA 59)
Apr 1978 - Oct 1978 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CV 59) Mediterranean
Nov 1979 - May 1980 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CV 59) Mediterranean
Mar 1981 - Sep 1981 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CV 59) Lebanon War
Jun 1982 - Nov 1982 CVW-17 USS Forrestal (CV 59) Lebanon War
Apr 1983 - Jul 1983 CVW-3 USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Lebanon War
Sep 1983 - May 1984 CVW-3 USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67)
Aug 1985 - Apr 1986 CVW-17 USS Saratoga (CV 60) Mediterranean
Indian Ocean
Jun 1987 - Nov 1987 CVW-17 USS Saratoga (CV 60)
Mar 1988 - May 1988 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66)
Aug 1988 - Oct 1988 CVW-17 USS Independence (CV 62)
Feb 1989 - Apr 1989 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66)
May 1989 - Nov 1989 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66) Mediterranean
Indian Ocean
Dec 1990 - Apr 1991 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66) Operation Desert Storm
Aug 1991 - Oct 1991 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66)
Dec 1991 - Jun 1992 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66)
Aug 1993 - Feb 1994 CVW-1 USS America (CV 66) Operation Deny Flight
Operation Continue Hope
Operation Southern Watch

Combat Operations


Operation Desert Storm - 17 January–28 February 1991

The squadron participated in Operation Desert Storm, combat strikes against targets in Iraq and the Kuwaiti theater of operations. During this period of combat the squadron flew 585 combat sorties, consisting of 1,700 flight hours and expended over 850 tons of ordnance.



Member of Category: United States Navy Carrier Based Squadrons [1]]


  2. Military Aircraft Historian
  3. Seaforces-online

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