Looking Back at VF-103 “JOLLY ROGERS“ Last Tomcat Cruise, Homecoming CVW-17

F-14B_162918_AA100_13-12-2004_Oceana_01_1024_Fi1

On December 13th, 2004 at 14:00 local, the aircraft of CVW-17 were landing at NAS Oceana, and thus VF-103 finished their last cruise with the F-14B Tomcat. The family members of the crews couldn’t wait for that the pilots to shut down the engines.

CVW-17 flew from the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) 8,296 missions during the cruise, accumulating 21,824 flying hours.  A total of 4,396 missions worth 11,607 flying hours were completed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The cruise started on June 7th, 2004; its main operating area was the Persian Gulf, the Arabic Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

The last 10 F-14Bs of VF-103 were old, and were ultimately replaced by brand new FA-18F Super Hornets. The F-14Bs of the Jolly Rogers were a mix of new built F-14Bs (Block 145 and 150-GR) and modernized F-14As, which were upgraded to F-14B (Block 120, 130 and 140-GR) status. Sadly, only a few days later after their last landings in Oceana, the Tomcats were flown to Davis-Monthan AFB and were put into storage.

The FA-18Cs from VFA-34, VFA-81 and VFA-83 landed only a few minutes after the Tomcats, and they were duly received by their families too.

The EA-6B Prowlers were flown to their home base at NAS Widbey Island in Washington, while the S-3B Vikings of VS-30 and the SH/HH-60 Seahawks of HS-15 were flown to NAS Jacksonville, Florida.  Finally, the E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-125 landed at NAS Norfolk, Va..

CVW-17 was reformed for its next cruise on the USS George Washington, and left their home bases in 2006 to arrive aboard for their carrier for another globe-straddling cruise.

The squadrons of CVW-17 in 2004

Modex Squadron                                                             Aircraft

100         VF-103                  Jolly Rogers                        F-14B

200         VFA-34                 Blue Blasters                      FA-18C(N)

300         VFA-83                 Rampagers                         FA-18C(N)

400         VFA-81                 Sunliners                             FA-18C

500         VAQ-132              Scorpions                            EA-6B

600         VAW-125             Tigertails                              E-2C Hawkeye 2000

610         HS-15                    Red Lions                             SH-60F/HH-60H

700         VS-30                    Diamondcutters               S-3B

Xx           VRC-40 DET.4     Rawhides                            C-2A

 

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Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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