Historical Overview of “The FIST of the FLEET”
Established as Torpedo Squadron Seventeen (VT-17) on 1 January 1943. Redesignated Attack Squadron Six B (VA-6B) on 15 November 1946. Redesignated Attack Squadron Sixty Five (VA-65) on 27 July 1948. Redesignated Attack Squadron Twenty Five (VA-25) on 1 July 1959. Redesignated Strke Force Squadron Twenty Five (VFA-25) on 1 July 1983. They were the first squadron to be assigned the VFA-25 designation.
WWII Significant Events of VT-17
Prior to boarding the USS Bunker Hill (CV 17), the VT-17 crew was in training at NAS Chincoteague (Virginia).
10 September to 2 October 1943 : The squadron was embarked on the USS Bunker Hill (CV 17), enroute from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego.
11 November 1943 : The squadron flew its first combat sorties, striking targets in Rabaul.
November 1943 to February 1944 : The squadron flew numerous combat missions, striking targets in Kavieng, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Truk and Tinian.
2 February 1944 : During operations over Eniwetok, the squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander F. M. Whitaker, was lost in a midair collision.
February 1945 : The squadron flew numerous combat missions against targets in Japan and the Bonin Islands and provided ground support for the invasion of Iwo Jima.
19 March 1945 : For their actions against the Japanese Fleet in the Kure Bay area of the Inland Sea, the following squadron personnel were awarded the Navy Cross; Lieutenant Commander W. M. Romberger; Lieutenant H. E. Clark; Lieutenant (jg) T. J. Coghlan; Lieutenant (jg) H. W. Foote; Lieutenant (jg) H. C. Johnson; Lieutenant (jg) A. C. Traxler; and Ensign J. Behl. Lieutenant J. A. Tew was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during this attack.
March 1945 : Squadron aircraft struck Japanese ships in the East China Sea, Inland Sea and around the Ryukyu Islands and land based targets in and around Okinawa.
7 April 1945 : VT-17, along with other units from the Task Force, attacked a Japanese naval force composed of the super battleship YAMATO and escorts. Squadron aircraft scored several torpedo hits on the YAMATO and sunk one of her destroyer escorts. For their actions in this battle, the following squadron personnel were awarded the Navy Cross: Lieutenant T. C. Durkin; Lieutenant S. G. Sullivan; Lieutenant (jg) J. F. Monaghan and Ensign W. F. Nickel. Lieutenant H. E. Clark, Lieutenant (jg) T. J. Coghlan and Ensign R. S. Hanlon were awarded the Silver Star for their actions.
April 1945 : Combat missions were flown against targets in and around Okinawa in preparation for the invasion of that island.
May to June 1945 : VT-17 aircraft struck targets in and around Okinawa, Kyushu, Shikoku and ships in the East China Sea.
June 1945 : VT-17 returned to the mainland United States.
Insignia and Nickname
The squadron’s first insignia was approved by CNO on 28 September 1944. Colors for the four leaf clover, horseshoe and flying torpedo insignia were: a blue background with white shading, green four-leaf clover with black markings, white horseshoe with black markings, wings and nose of the torpedo were yellow with black markings and the remaining part of the torpedo was white with black markings.
After WWII, they became known as the “Fist of the Fleet” and changed to a new insignia. The clenched fist and lightning bolt insignia was approved by CNO on 9 June 1949. Colors for the insignia were: a gold background with a block border, black fist with gold markings and a red lightning bolt.
The FIST of the FLEET Aircraft
- TBF / TBM Avenger as VT-17 from 1943 through 1945
- SB2C Helldiver as VA6B / VA-65 from 1946 through 1953
- AD/A-1 Skyraider as VA-65 / VA-25 from 1954 through 1964
- A-7 Corsair II as VA-25 from 1968 through 1982
- F/A-18 Hornet as VFA-25 from 1983 through NOW
Portions from www.fisthistory.org (Thanks to Scott Smith)