VF-154, the Black Knights
VF-154 traces its origins back to July 1st, 1946, when VFB-718 squadron was called to operational duty by the Naval Reserve as part of the reserve buildup after WWII. Based at NAS Floyd Bennett, NY, they were known as "The Grand Slammers".
Over the course of four years, the squadron changed aircraft three times, from the F6F Hellcat, to the F4U Corsair, to the F9F-2 Panther, and was officially redesignated VF-154.
In 1957, the squadron moved to the F-8 Crusader and became known as the Black Knights. In the photo above you see an F-8D (148660) in VF-154 markings.
This same aircraft, which was later assigned to VF-162, experienced fuel system problems in August 1970. The pilot was forced to eject and later picked up by helicopter.
With the new name came a new insignia. The knight on the patch was armed with a sword to strike down the enemies of peace and justice, and a shield to protect those unable to defend themselves.
Most patches are designed by cartoonists. The Black Knight patch was designed by Milton Caniff, creator of the Steve Canyon cartoon strip.
Next came Vietnam in 1965 with their first deployment on the USS Coral Sea (CV-43). Switching to the F-4J version of the Phantom II, this last combat tour of Vietnam awarded the Black Knights the Clifton Award, recognizing them as the best fighter squadron in the Navy.
Photo below of F-4J Phantom (158373) in VF-154 markings taken by Horace Sagnor in November 1975 at McGuire AFB, NJ. This aircraft was spared from the scrapyard and is now in storage at the Flying Leatherneck Museum, CA.
The Black Knights finally upgraded to the F-14A in 1983 (see photo below), and their first cruise was onboard the USS Constellation as part of CVW-14 in 1985. Note the low-vis (uncolored) tail markings.
They soon relocated to the USS Independence becoming the first F-14 squadron to arrive in the Persian Gulf as part of "Desert Shield", and then moved to CVW-5, NAF Atsugi, becoming the first forward deployed F-14 squadron.
At the same time, they also became the first F-14 squadron to deploy with an air-to-ground bombing capability. According to the Navy Newsstand, the squadron claimed all the 1998 aviation awards, including the Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency "E" and Safety "S"; the "Boola-Boola" Award for Air-to-Air Excellence, and the Golden Wrench for Maintenance Excellence.
A very special photo above shows four F-14D Tomcats flying over Mount Surabachi on Iwo Jima in February 2003. The memorial in the foreground commemorates the spot where the American flag was raised.
Currently, the Black Knights are based at NAS Lemoore, CA, flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet. They are assigned to the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).
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