As members of the military, we are charged to be ready at a moment's notice to render service to our country. We are essentially on alert day in and day out. The same applies to the machines we use to carry out our mission.
All of us who are or have been associated with Naval Aviation, and more specifically tactical aviation, know that deployed units, whether directly involved in flight operations or not, must assume an alert posture. The alert is set to guarantee the readiness of the carrier air wing team to answer any threat or fulfill any mission or tasking when called. The alert condition and alert weapons loads varies with the mission.
In 1963, the Intruder was placed in service and the first alerts were set in the early years of the Vietnam conflict, and continued to this day. For the past 34 years, the Intruder stood the alert.
When the requirement went out for an all-weather precision weapon delivery platform, the A2F-1 more than answered the call. In 1963, the first Intruders set "The Alert" as VA-75 prepared to sail for the South China Sea and skies over Vietnam in 1965. Back in the era when Phantoms and Crusaders ruled the skies, and alongside such legends as Skyhawk, Skywarrior, Skyraider, and Vigilante, the Intruder stood the alert.
When monsoon rains curtailed offensive air operations in Southeast Asia, the Intruder was the only aircraft capable of threading its way into, destroying, and egressing from targets that lesser aircraft could never find. No matter what the weather or time of day, the undaunted A-6 boldly stood the alert.
Before the deployment of Tomcats and the advent of true air superiority, indeed before many of the current Sunday Punchers were born, throughout the most tense years of the cold war and then-Soviet expansion in the wake of growing nuclear arsenals, back when we were building the 600-ship Navy, the A-6 remained on alert as the backbone of carrier-based power projection
The alert was continuous throughout the fall of the Warsaw Pact. As the Berlin Wall came down, along with the evil it represented, the world became more unstable and throughout that instability, the A-6 remained at the ready ... on alert.
When the Corsair stood by its larger attack brother, and before the Hornet was even a dream in the minds of a new breed of aircraft design engineers, the BUFF remained on alert.
The words "Strike. This is Ready 4. The alert is set." were passed countless times over the bitch box. ALthough those of us not deployed did not hear those words, we still slept soundly at night knowing Intruders were out there, somewhere, on alert.
The alert was maintained by dedicated maintenance technicians and skilled aircrew deployed on carriers to inhospitable regions like the Tonkin Gulf, South China Sea, Eastern and Central Mediterranean, Gulf of Sidra, North Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, Red Sea, and Arabian Gulf.
The alert was set, and launched, in every strategically significant area of the world where deterrence, containment, and lethal power projection were required: Places like Vietnam, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, and Bosnia.
The Intruder stood every alert mission within the vast capability of the aircraft: SUCAP, RESCAP, CAS, SEAD, air interdiction, long-range strike, and the ubiquitous tanker mission. Even the nuclear mission had an alert status. The alert Intruder was feared by those who would test the will of the United States for when the alert was launched, tons of iron bombs and precision-guided weapons ensured death and destruction soon followed.
Even when we took time out to revel in our friendship and comradery, when we paused from the rigors or our demanding profession to eulogize those killed in action or lost to operational mishaps, other Intruders, both at home and in far-away places, still remained on alert.
For 34 years, this reliable warrior remained on the tip of the spear ... and faithfully stood the alert.
Today, the alert is turned over entirely to Tomcats, Hornets, Prowlers, and Vikings as the carrier air wing takes on a new complexion. With todays proceedings, our community, and indeed part of our youth, will be relegated to a distinguished chapter in Naval Aviation history, and proud memories of what once was.
Although the A-6 alert stands down and the Intruder is retired, the spirit of the attack will live on ... FOREVER. To those who assume the alert for the A-6: Aim true and shoot straight. In the final analysis, the only thing that really matters in air warfare is "fused weapons on target ... first pass."
From the VA-75 Disestablishment Ceremony, 31 March 1997