The VF-124 GUNFIGHTERS COMMEMORATIVE CHALLENGE COIN
"A labor of love." In preparation for the upcoming reunion in San Diego, CA, LaDonna Dusza-Stewart, a Gunfighter-for-life, has partnered with Timeless Military Coins to put this commemorative coin together. With a keen eye, attention to detail, and numerous references, LaDonna has been able to put together this coin that will help Gunfighters across the globe hold a piece of history and tradition.
In classic VF-124 “Gunfighters” and FIGHTERTOWN U.S.A. tradition, this commemorative challenge coin pays tribute to the “best of the best.”
Located in the sunny, southern California city of San Diego, NAS Miramar, also affectionately known as FIGHTERTOWN U.S.A., was home to many of our enlisted personnel, officers, and aviators of our superb U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps while serving their tour of duty over the years. NAS Miramar was, and still is, a classic American Institution, famous to both its military personnel and the public for the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS), that was established on 3 March 1969. NFWS, commonly known as TOPGUN (United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Training Program), has became a fan favorite and provided a renewed military interest for generations to come thanks to its namesake movie, TOP GUN, that was released to the public in 1986. TOPGUN provided precise instruction for fighter and strike tactics and techniques to select flight naval officers who returned to their operating units as surrogate instructors. Many VF-124 Pilots and Rios were TOPGUN qualified and brought their knowledge and experience back to VF-124 and their future fleet officers to aid in the training of the incoming student officers. For the military personnel who were fortunate enough to hit the trifecta of being stationed at NAS Miramar, work with F-14s and also attached to Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124 “Gunfighters”), we know that your experiences cannot be put in to words. We hope that this coin encompasses your memories, can help tell a part of your story, and brings you back to a special place and time in your military career.
The VF-124 “Gunfighters”
Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124) became active on 16 August 1948 and moved from NAS Moffet Field to NAS Miramar in 1953. VF-124 received their first F-14A's on 8 October 1972. Soon after, the first two fleet F-14 squadrons were commissioned. Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124) was disestablished 30 September 1994. Between 1953 and 1994, the VF-124 “Gunfighters” operated both F-14A Tomcats and the F-14D Super Tomcats in the primary role as a fleet replacement squadron, with the task being training of aviators for the F-8 and F-14.
The F-14 Tomcat first flew 21 December 1970, and made its first deployment in 1974 with the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The last American F-14 combat mission was completed on 8 February 2006, when a pair of Tomcats landed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) after one dropped a bomb over Iraq. The official final flight retirement ceremony was on 22 September 2006 at Naval Air Station Oceana, and was flown by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard and Lt. Mike Petronis as RIO in a backup F-14 after the primary aircraft experienced mechanical problems. The actual last flight of an F-14 in U.S. service took place 4 October 2006, when an F-14D of VF-31 was ferried from NAS Oceana (Virginia Beach, VA) to Republic Airport on Long Island, New York.