report by: Danny Bonny
NAF Atsugi has been home to Sailors and their families for nearly 60 years and the only permanently forward deployed, co-located Air Wing, Carrier Air Wing Five for more than 28 years. The only Naval installation supporting an entire Air Wing, Atsugi supports more than 40 award- Winning tenant commands, which not only guarantee mission accomplishment, but also ensure the success of our numerous community and youth programs through teamwork and volunteerism.
The base was originally built in 1938 by the Japanese Imperial Navy as Emperor Hirohito’s Naval Air Base. There were other air bases in Yokosuka, Kisarazu and Tateyama; however, these were regarded as being unfit bases for the larger planes to be used by the Japanese Navy in the future. The base was used to train the Emperor’s pilots. The 302 Naval Aviation Corps, flew their Zero and Gekko fighters, and were the most formidable factor in Japan’s air defense during World War II
General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi, August 30, in his C-54, the “Bataan” to accept the formal Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri and assume the duties as military Governor of Japan. At the outbreak of the Korean War, June 25, 1950, Atsugi was selected by the Navy as its major Naval Air Station in the Far East. Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Two arrived in October and found the station in a complete state of disrepair.
In January 1951, Patrol Squadron Six came as the first squadron operating from the station. They were followed shortly by a detachment of Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 120 based at Oppama, near Yokosuka, which was ordered to Atsugi to support the VP-6 “Neptune” planes. During the 1950’s and 60’s many units few out of Atsugi. At one point there were as many as 250 aircraft here. By comparison, Carrier Air Wing FIVE has about 80 aircraft.
Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) was first commissioned 15 February 1943 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia, as Carrier Air Group FIVE (CVG-5). The first air group to enter the Korean War, CVG-5 was embarked on the USS VALLEY FORGE (CV-47) when VF-51 recorded the first air-to-air jet kill in naval history. On 20 December 1963, CVG-5 became Carrier Air Wing FIVE when the Navy changed its air group classification system. . As tension grew in Southeast Asia, CVW-5 was once again called to combat action in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 while serving on the USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14). On 6 March 1965, embarked on the USS MIDWAY (CV-41), CVW-5 again sailed for the Far East, her aircraft prepared for combat operations, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam.
On 17 June 1965, while escorting a strike on the barracks at Gen Phu, North Vietnam, members of VF-21, flying F-4B Phantoms, intercepted four MiG-17s, shooting down two, scoring the first U.S. victories over MiGs in Vietnam. Over the next nine years of the Vietnam Conflict, CVW-5 returned to the Gulf of Tonkin for a total of eight combat cruises.
The USS George Washington is a nuclear powered aircraft carrier which, combined with its Air Wing, provides a significant contribution to the United States Defense roles and mission in the Pacific. The Air Wing now consists of eight squadrons: VFA-27, VFA-102, VFA-115, VFA-195, VAW-125, VAQ-141, HSC-12 and HSM-77. Additionally, there is a squadron detachment from VRC-30, and the helicopter squadron HSM-51. During our visit, VFA-27 and VFA-102 were the only CVW-5 squadrons to be present ; the other squadrons had left a few days before. Globalaipower would like to thank all the poeple that made this report possible.