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Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34), also known as the 'Blue Blasters', are a United States Navy F/A-18C Hornet fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana. They are a part of Carrier Air Wing 2 and are attached to the USS Abraham Linc-on(CVN-72).
The squadron was originally commissioned the VF-20 'jokers' on October 15, 1943 as part of Air Group 20 stationed at NAS San Diego, California. The squadron was composed of numerous newly winged Naval Aviators along with a few combat hardened pilots. Flying F6F Hellcats from the deck of USS Enterprise (CV-6), VF-20 was heavily involved in the initial invasion operations in the Philippines, including the epic Battle of Leyte Gulf. As part of Admiral Halsey's Northern Strike Group, VF-20 assisted in sinking one of the world's largest battleships, the Japanese battleship Musashi (sister ship to the Yamato), and was given credit for partial kills on several Japanese cruisers and destroyers. After the deployment, VF-20 cross-decked to the 'Grey Ghost', the USS Lexington (CV-16). From her decks, 'The Jokers' struck various targets from Taiwan to the Japanese mainland. During WWII, eight VF-20 pilots became aces, 12 pilots received the Navy Cross and 22 received the Silver Star. VF-20 was credited with the destruction of over 15 ships and 407 aircraft, not counting the even greater number that were damaged but not destroyed.
The squadron served in the Gulf of Tonkin and North Vietnam in 1967 during the Vietnam War onboard USS Intrepid (CV-11). Attack Squadron 34 was disestablished on May 29, 1969. Less than a year later, on January 1, 1970, the Blue Blasters were reestablished at NAS Oceana, Virginia, as the Atlantic Fleet’s sixth A-6 Intruder squadron. (Photo)
The Blue Blasters participated in Operation Prairie Fire and Operation El Dorado Canyon. VA-34 was the first squadron to employ the AGM-84 Harpoon in combat, successfully defending ships of the U.S. 6th Fleet against threatening Libyan forces. Less than one month later, the Blue Blasters conducted a daring night, low-level, high-speed attack against Libyan barracks and aircraft storage facilities.
In August 1990 the squadron flew missions in support of Operation Desert Shield, the build up of American and Allied forces to counter a threatened invasion of Saudi Arabia by Iraq and as part of an economic blockade of Iraq to force its withdrawal from Kuwait.
The Blue Blasters departed in January 1996 for their last deployment flying the venerable A-6E Intruder on the USS George Washington (CVN-73). They flew in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. Typical missions included close air support and Airborne Forward Air Controller assisting US and United Nations troops on the ground.