Carrier Air Wing SEVEN
Carrier Air Wing SEVEN was commissioned on July 20, 1943 at Alameda Naval Air Station, California, as Carrier Air Group EIGHTEEN (CAG-18). It was composed of VF-18 FIGHTING EIGHTEEN, VF(N)-78 FIGHTING SEVENTY-EIGHT, VB-18 BOMBING EIGHTEEN, and VT-18 TORPEDO EIGHTEEN. With CDR William Ellis commanding, CAG-18 embarked USS INTREPID (CV 11) and commenced combat operations against the Japanese on September 6, 1944 by striking the Palau Islands in preparation for amphibious landings there. For the next two months, CAG-18 and INTREPID raided extensively throughout the Western Pacific, striking targets throughout Micronesia and the Philippines. In October, the focus turned westward and CAG-18 attacked airfields in Okinawa and Formosa (Taiwan) to isolate the Philippines from Japanese air cover. Finally, on the 18th of October, CAG-18 and INTREPID began pounding concentrations of Japanese forces in the Philippines in preparation for General MacArthur’s planned landings at Leyte Gulf. On the 24th, as the Battle of Leyte Gulf raged, CAG-18 attacked the Japanese Navy’s Center Force in the Sibuyan Sea, stopping an attempt to isolate MacArthur’s landing force. On the 28th, CAG-18 participated in the destruction of the Japanese Navy’s Northern Force in the Battle off Cape Engano as part of Admiral “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38, assuring an American victory at Leyte and destroying the Japanese Navy’s capability to wage offensive warfare. Through the remainder of October and November, CAG-18 and INTREPID continued striking targets in the Philippines to support American advances until November 25th, when a two-pronged kamikaze attack forced INTREPID into port for repairs. By the time CAG-18 was detached on December 1st, they lost 66 planes and 58 airmen but shot down 154 enemy planes and destroyed or damaged another 409 on the ground during raids. Further, they sunk 53 ships and damaged or sunk another 135.
In September 1945, the air group transferred to Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island and on November 16, 1946 was re-designated Attack Carrier Air Group SEVEN (CVG-7). In the summer of 1952, CVG-7, under the command of CDR G. B. Brown, embarked USS BONHOMME RICHARD (CVA 31) and sailed to the eastern coast of Korea to support United Nations troops fighting the North Korean invasion of South Korea. CVG-7 conducted routine close air support and battlefield interdiction missions in support of ground troops. Further, on June 23rd and 24th, CVG-7 participated in a series of raids now known collectively as the Attack on the Sui-ho Dam, in which they penetrated deep into North Korean territory to strike dams, power plants and other electrical infrastructure. The attack left 90% of North Korea and 23% of Eastern China without electricity for several weeks. Throughout July and August, CVG-7 struck other infrastructure targets deep behind North Korean lines to ensure the lasting effect of the blackout. By the end of the deployment, CVG-7 conducted 11 raids in North Korean territory with no friendly losses.
After moving from Quonset Point to Naval Air Station, Oceana in 1958, the CVG-7 teamed up with USS INDEPENDENCE (CVA 62) and deployed as the first all jet air group. On 20 December 1963, the Navy re-designated CVG-7 to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7). In 1965, CVW-7 spent 100 days in the South China Sea conducting strikes into North Vietnam from Yankee Station. CVW-7 was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for it’s actions, which included the first successful air attacks on surface-to-air missile batteries as well as strikes deep into the heavily defended Hanoi-Haiphong industrial complex. All told, CVW-7 flew over 7,000 missions while on station. Over the next decade, CVW-7 made several deployments to the Mediterranean aboard INDEPENDENCE.
On 1 March 1978, CVW-7 was assigned to the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). Between 1978 and 1990, CVW-7 made six deployments to the Mediterranean aboard “IKE.” In April 1983, a CVW-7 aircraft conducted a 1000 nautical mile night, over-ocean bogey intercept- at the time the longest in aviation history. When Iraq invaded Kuwait during the 1990 deployment, IKE and CVW-7 responded immediately by steaming from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Once there, they became the first Atlantic Fleet air wing to participate in Operation DESERT SHIELD, deterring Iraq from continuing its invasion into Saudi Arabia.
Through the 1990’s, CVW-7 made five deployments, first aboard IKE then later with USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) , USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), and finally back with IKE to the Adriatic Sea and Persian Gulf in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, CVW- 7 has made five deployments to the CENTCOM AOR in support of the Global War on Terror, participating in both Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM . During those deployments CVW-7 has conducted several thousand missions in support of troops on the ground. CVW-7 is currently composed of Strike Fighter Squadron 103 “Jolly Rogers,” Strike Fighter Squadron 143 “Pukin’ Dogs,” Strike Fighter Squadron 83 “Rampagers,” Strike Fighter Squadron 131 “Wildcats,” Electronic Attack Squadron 140 “Patriots,” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 “Bluetails,” and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron “Nightdippers.”