Published in the April 1958 Issue of Naval Aviation News
Photographer: Unknown

The 'Albino Angels' of VA-113, organized by Cdr. Cormier, fly A4D Skyhawks

Now aboard the USS Shangri-La on a West Pacific cruise, VA-113 had until recently been stationed at NAS Miramar where it prepared for its new deployment. Known as "the Friendly Squadron," the hard driving unit has already established a reputation as a close-knit, effective fighting team.

The VA-113 story makes up in color what it lacks in length. Commanded by Cdr. R. L. "Zeke" Cormier, the squadron lives up to its "Stinger Bee" insignia.

Cdr. Cormier reported as skipper in March 1957 and immediately organized the "Albino Angels" whose close-in precision flying spell-bound the huge crowd at Miramar's Air Show last August. As a project for Zeke, it was a natural since he had served as leader of the Blue Angels for three consecutive years.

The squadron was originally commissioned a fighter squadron ten years ago. At that time, it joined Carrier Air Group 11 and is a component of the same outfit today.

Since the Stinger Bee was adopted for the squadron insignia, a pair of crossed baseball bats has been added to the patch for the purpose of showing, according to Chief N. A. Aiello of the maintenance department, the "we play ball with anyone."

At the opening of the Korean conflict, VA-113 was deployed to the fighting area. Flying F4U Corsairs, the Stingers made two combat tours to the Far East where they established several enviable records and were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

During the last two Far East cruises aboard the USS Kearsarge, the squadron pilots flew the famed F9F Panthers.

In 1956, the squadron was officially re-designated Attack Squadron 113. It made its first cruise as an attack squadron aboard the USS Essex.

The XO, LCdr. Patrick F. Cunningham, and the operations officer, Lt. Mitch Simmons have been at Cdr. Cormier's right hand during the squadron's training cycle.

Since VA-113's mission is special weapons delivery, the Skipper could not have hand-picked a better pair. LCdr. Cunningham served as Air Intelligence Officer and Weapons Employment Officer aboard the USS Oriskany before reporting to VA-113. Lt. Simmons was formerly stationed at Kirkland AF Base, Albuquerque N. M., where he worked at the Naval Air Special Weapons facility.

Currently over 37 confirmed individual "E" awards in special weapons alone are held by the squadrons 19 pilots. The rewards were received in three deployments to NAAS El Centro and two at NAAS China Lake and one at NAAS Fallon.

Under the command of Cdr. Cormier, the squadron has logged over 4500 hours. The majority of the time accumulated in the speedy A4D-1 Skyhawks since the switch was made last July for the F9F-8B Cougars.

In their daily runs to NAAS El Centro, the squadron has expended a monumental load of ordndnce on the desert targets. A total of 5497 Mk. 76 practice bombs have been dropped as well as quantities of other types.

XO LCdr. Cunningham and Skipper Cdr. Cormier talk over tactics.

Chief Miller helps maintenance crew.

VA-113 crewmen load Skyhawk
with practice ammo.