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The patch shows an attacking bird with a sky that is one-half stormy and the other half clear, but both halves depicting night time. The symbolism of the menacing attacking bird was to represent an attacking aircraft, and with the good and bad weather (both at night) the representation is for the all-weather attack A-6 - the only aircraft/crew which never needed to listen to a weather briefer.

Command History

Attack Squadron 185 was established on 1 December 1986 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. The Nighthawks of VA-185 fly the all weather attack mission utilizing the Grumman A-6E "Intruder". VA-185 was the first new West Coast A-6 squadron in 13 years.

The period from December through September 1987 saw the steady expansion of the number of aircraft and squadron personnel assigned. It was announced in early September 1987 that the squadron would be permanently forward deployed to Japan. The Nighthawks arrived at NAF Atsugi, Japan on the 13th of September, and embarked on board USS MIDWAY (CV-41), six days later. The Nighthawks spent the winter of '87 -'88 at sea, an essential part of the USS MIDWAY/Carrier Air Wing Five team.

As a result of their superb performance since their establishment, The Nighthawks were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation in July of 1988. During the latter half of 1988, the squadron continued to operate out of Atsugi, Japan with aircrews flying low-level missions in Japan, Republic of Korea, and the Republic of the Philippines.

1989 was a banner year which saw The Nighthawks operating in every corner of WESTPAC. The squadron participated in several exercises in February and March, including a NOREX and Team Spirit '89. In May the squadron sent a sizable detachment to Osan, Republic of Korea to use various target ranges for competitive exercises. Throughout the year the squadron competed in over 300 events, scoring "E's" (Excellent) in 223. The remainder of the year found the squadron participating in various joint exercises with the forces of other nations, as well as limited dual Carrier Battle Group operations with the USS ENTERPRISE. After a successful Indian Ocean Deployment during the latter half of the year, The Nighthawks participated in Operation "Classic Resolve" in support of the Philippine government against an attempted coup.

For their extraordinary efforts throughout 1989, The Nighthawks received every major award available to fleet squadrons including: the 1989 Pacific Fleet Arieigh Burke Fleet Trophy, awarded annually by the Chief of Naval Operations to the unit that has exhibited the greatest improvement in combat readiness; the 1989 CINCPACFLT Golden Anchor Award, presented annually to those Pacific Fleet commands which have demonstrated exceptional effective unit effort to retain quality personnel in the Navy; the prestigious Battle Efficiency "E" for Pacific Fleet Intruder squadrons presented by Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific in recognition of the squadron which demonstrated the highest level of sustained combat readiness; and, the 1989 Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award, which recognized the professionalism and personal commitment to safety displayed by all Nighthawks throughout the year. In addition, in 1989, VA-185 was awarded the Wade McClusky Award, emblematic of the best attack squadron in the Navy.

The Nighthawks began 1990 with intensive participation in Cope Thunder 90-4, a two week training exercise in the Republic of the Philippines. In March, the squadron resumed routine carrier operations in the South China Sea and Philippine operating area which culminated with a well deserved port call in Hong Kong. The Nighthawks returned to their home field of Atsugi, Japan in April and participated in the Medium Attack Advanced Readiness Program (MAARP) at Osan, Korea in May.

The Nighthawks operated from the deck of the USS Midway and led the first strikes into Iraq to start the Gulf War. The squadron was disestablished in July 1991.

There have been a total of 3 Commanding Officers of The Knighthawks. The first, CDR. W. Magnan, served from December 1986 to November 1988. Second was CDR M. J. McCamish. The last was CDR. B. Satterwhite. He served from June 1990 until July of 1991.