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Flying Workhorse

Flying Workhorse

The Grumman A-6 Intruder served the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as their primary all-weather attack aircraft for more than 30 years. Brought into service during the Vietnam War, the Intruder saw action in every major crisis since, most recently the Gulf War.

The aircraft immediately developed a reputation for reliability, durability and accuracy that persisted throughout its long years of service. The Marine Corps phased the Intruder out of its inventory shortly after Operation Desert Storm. In all, 16 Navy squadrons maintained and operated this flying workhorse.

Whidbey was the West Coast training and operations center for these all-weather, medium-attack bomber squadrons.

Attack Squadron 196 became Whidbey’s first squadron slated to receive the A-6A on Nov. 15, 1966. VA-165 and VA-145 reported aboard on Jan. 1, 1967, to transition from the A-1 to the A-6.

VA-52 reported aboard on July 1, 1967, and VA-128, the A-6A fleet replacement squadron for Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet, was commissioned after splitting from VAH-123 on Sept. 1, 1967.

On Jan. 1, 1970, VA-115 came to Whidbey and VA-95 came on April 1, 1972, bringing the total number of A-6 squadrons here to seven.

VA-196 became the last A-6 squadron to retire on Feb. 28, 1997. The Intruder saw service in Vietnam, Libya and Desert Storm. At one time, NAS Whidbey Island had as many as 125 A-6 aircraft.

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