NAVY GLADIATOR REUNION GROUP
Squadron History - Page 1
Jan 1945: The squadron was established only one month before it entered combat. Personnel from VF-17 were the core of the newly established
Bomber Fighter Squadron 17.
16–17 Feb 1945: The squadron participated in strikes against targets in and around the Tokyo area.
20–22 Feb 1945: Squadron aircraft participated in strikes against Iwo Jima and provided air support for the landings on the island.
25 Feb 1945: Conducted strikes in the Tokyo area.
18–19 Mar 1945: Major strikes were conducted by squadron aircraft against Kanoya, the largest air field on Kyushu and against the
Japanese Fleet anchored at Kure Naval Base. On 19 March Lieutenant Edwin S.Conant was awarded the Silver Star for his action as flight
leader on a fighter sweep over the Kure Bay. He shot down three planes during an engagement with the enemy and his flight group accounted
for a total of 24 enemy planes downed and probably eight or more damaged.
21 Mar 1945: Lieutenant (jg) Henry E. Mitchell became an Ace when he shot down five Bettys (Japanese Navy Mitsubishi Attack Bombers)
that were part of a sortie attacking the squadron’s task force. He was later killed in action on 3 April 1945. For his action on 21
March he was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
Mar–May 1945: The squadron conducted strikes in support of the Okinawa campaign.
6 Apr 1945: Ensign Harold Yeremain became an Ace when he added three more aircraft to his total by downing two Zekes (Mitsubishi A6M
Fighters, commonly known as Zeros) and one Val (an Aichi Navy Carrier Bomber) during an engagement near Okinawa. Ensigns John J. Gafeney
and William J. Kostik were awarded Silver Stars for their actions in shooting down three Japanese aircraft each during this engagement.
7 Apr 1945: The unit participated in the combined task force strikes against the super battleship Yamato and its accompanying escorts,
resulting in the sinking of Yamato, two cruisers and three destroyers.
7 Apr 1945: Lieutenant Byron A. Eberts became an Ace when he brought his total to five by shooting down a Francis (a Yokosuka Japanese
Navy Night Fighter).
12 Apr 1945: Lieutenant Edwin S. Conant became an Ace when he shot down a Zeke (Zero) and a Tojo (a Japanese Army Nakajima Fighter)
and brought his tally to six aircraft downed.
14 Apr 1945: Ensigns Robert A. Clarke and William J. Kostik became Aces when they each shot down a Zeke (Zero).
16 Apr 1945: Lieutenant John M. Johnston became an Ace when he shot down four Zekes (Zeros), bringing his total to eight aircraft.
For his action during this engagement he was awarded the Silver Star.
May 1945: The squadron participated in strikes against Kyushu and Shikoku, hitting aircraft plants and airfields.
14 May 1945: The squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander H. W. Nicholson, was killed in action during a strike against
Kyushu. 14 May 1945: Lieutenant (jg) Carl V. Stone became an Ace when he added two Franks (a Japanese Army Fighter) to his total of
Aug 1956: Following the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egypt on 26 July, Coral Sea (CVA 43) was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean
as tensions increased and France and the United Kingdom began preparations for military action against Egypt.
Oct–Nov 1956: On 29 October Israel invaded Egypt and a day later France and the United Kingdom joined in the invasion, with the intent
of reoccupying the Suez Canal. Coral Sea was on station in the eastern Mediterranean during the American evacuation of Western nationals
from Egypt and Israel.
Jul 1959: During the NATO exercise Riptide, held off the east coast of the United States, the squadron conducted cross deck operations
with the British carrier HMS Victorious.
15–28 Nov 1960: Following a request from Guatemala and Nicaragua, a Navy patrol was established off the coast of these Central American
countries to prevent infiltration by communists from Cuba. The squadron operated from Shangri-La (CVA 38) as part of the patrol force.
2–19 Jun 1961: Following the assassination of the Dominican Republic’s dictator, General Rafael Trujillo, the squadron operated from
Shangri-La off the coast of that country until the domestic situation began to stabilize.
22 Oct–28 Nov 1962: During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Squadron was attached as part of the Air-Wing to the USS Shangri-La,
however, the USS Shangri-La was in the New York ship yard at the time for repair and was not online. The squadron was then sent
TAD to the U.S. Airforce’s 19th Tactical Air Force onboard the USS Lexington in an alert status.
08 Jul 1967 - 15 Sep 1967: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIX Gladiators flying the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk, deployed on their first of
two WestPac/Vietnam combat cruises onboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59).
29 Jul 1967: After four days on Yankee Station tragedy struck the USS Forrestal (CVA-59). While aircraft were being prepared for the
second launch of the day, again targets in Vietnam, a Suni rocket was accidentally fired on the flight deck causing a chain reaction
of explosions among the aircraft loaded with bombs and fuel. Flames engulfed the fantail and spread below decks touching off bombs
and ammunition. Heroic efforts by VA-106 personnel, along with other members of CVW-17 and ship's company, brought the fires under
control. Damage to the carrier and aircraft was severe and VA-106 lost eight men out of the 132 killed, two missing and presumed dead
and 62 injured. Eleven of the squadrons A-4E Skyhawks were lost in the fire. Numerous squadron personnel were cited for their acts
of heroism during the tragedy.
Those killed were: Petty Officers H. Fontenot Airman: C.
W. W. Stewart
R. N. Plesh
J. A. Earick
04 Jun 68 - 08 Feb 1969: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIX flying the A-4E Skyhawk, Deployed on their second of two WestPac/Vietnam
combat cruises onboard the USS Intrepid (CVS-11).
23 Sep 1968: Gladiator A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 152091 was lost in an operational accident. The pilot, LCDR David F. Callahan was killed.
21 Oct 1968: Gladiator A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151160 AK 217 was shot down by anti aircraft fire over North Vietnam. The pilot, LCDR Kenneth
Keith Knabb is missing in action.
07 Nov 1969: Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIX (VA-106) was disestablished and has never been reestablished.
The squadrons's first insignia was approved by CNO on 23 November 1945 and consisted of a skeleton riding a rocket. The skeletons face was white with light green shading and deep purple sockets. He wore a purple sombrero, a magenta shirt with an orange neckerchief, and teal trousers with a light blue cuff and tan boots with brown soles and dark purple stirrups. Around his waist, he wore a brown belt and holster. His hands were white with light green markings. In his left hand he carried a light gray pistol outlined in purple with yellow smoke and in his right hand, he carried a magenta bomb.
The squadron’s second insignia, which is the insignia that we proudly display to this day, is a Roman Gladiator helmet and shield.
A young LTJG named Bill Bicket serving with Fighter Squadron Sixty-Two (VF-62) designed the insignia in 1951. When LTJG Bicket first
displayed his drawings to the squadron, it was immediately accepted and was later approved by CNO on 16 Apr 1952. The shield is dark
blue and sits upon a gold background with a dark blue border. The helmet is gold with black markings, a white arrow and stylized wings.
Below the shield is a gold scroll that displays the GLADIATOR name in black lettering.
1945 - 1952 No recorded moniker
1952 - 1969 Gladiators
1945 Established as Bomber-Fighter Squadron SEVENTEEN (VBF-17)
1946 Redesignated Fighter Squadron SIX B (VF-6B)
1948 Redesignated Fighter Squadron SIXTY-TWO (VF-62)
1955 Redesignated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIX (VA-106)
1969 Disestablished and has never been Reestablished
J. A. Velez
A. R. Metz
G. E. Wall
26 Apr 53 - 04 Dec 53: VF-62 Deployed onboard the USS Lake Champlain during Korean War
May 1963: The squadron operated from Shangri-La in the Caribbean during the period of unrest in Haiti and the civil strife with
the Dominican Republic
01 Jul 55: Redesignated Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIX (VA-106)