Lest We Forget: The Edge: Gerald R. Ford; VS-37

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)The Edge

When the ship was finally crippled by the typhoon, she returned to the United States for major repairs, and the young man finished out his service at the Navy Pre-Flight School, St. Mary's College, California. He left the Navy in January 1946, wearing lieutenant commander shoulder boards and a chest full of campaign medals.

Had this young man—so typical of his generation in so many ways—been swept overboard during that terrible tempest, he would have been one of thousands of young men who would never reach their full potential. But a two-inch piece of steel—placed at the flattop's deck edge by some nameless welder—ensured that America would have its 38th President. The young Sailor was Gerald R. Ford.


—Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)


Sea Control Squadron 37 (VS-37) was established in 1946 at NAS Oakland, California, as reserve Attack Squadron 76E (VA-76E). Redesignation to Composite Squadron 871 (VC-871) and Air Antisubmarine Squadron 871 (VS-871) followed in 1948 and 1949, respectively.

Equipped with TBM-3S/3E Avengers, VS-871 was called to active duty at NAS Los Alamitos California, on 1 May 1951, for service in the Korean War. The squadron deployed to the war zone on the USS Bataan (CVL-29) and the USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116). On 24 June 1953, VS-871 was redesignated VS-37 and subsequently equipped with AF-2S/2W Guardians, followed by a move to NAS North Island, California.

After a 1954-55 deployment on board the USS Princeton (CVS-37) covering the evacuation of Nationalist Chinese forces from Tachen Island, VS-37 received the S2F-1 Tracker. After a deployment on board the USS Philippine Sea (CVS-47), VS-37 added S2F-2 versions to its aircraft and moved back to Los Alamitos in 1957 before a 1958 deployment on board the USS Yorktown (CVS-10).

During the 1960s, VS-37 deployed six times to the Western Pacific on board the USS Hornet (CVS-12). In 1961, the squadron was divided to form VS-35 as a sister squadron. VS-37 moved back to North Island in 1961 to become the Navy's first fleet S2F-3 (S-2D) squadron. After transition to the S-2E, VS-37 deployed thrice to the Tonkin Gulf and flew patrol and gunfire-spotting missions off Vietnam. In 1969, VS-37 joined the USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) for operations in the Indian Ocean in 1971 and off Vietnam in 1972.

In 1972, VS-37 upgraded to the S-2G and in 1973 was assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) as an implementation of the CV concept, whereby ASW aircraft were included in an attack carrier air wing. In 1976, after two deployments, VS-37 assisted Republic of Korea Navy S-2 crews in transition to the S-2G, and became the Navy's last fleet S-2 squadron.

After transition to the S-3A Viking ASW jet, VS-37 deployed six times during the 1980s to the Western and Northern Pacific and Indian Oceans on board the USS Constellation (CV-64), USS Ranger (CV-61), and USS Enterprise (CVN-65). In 1987 the squadron supported Operation Earnest Will, the escort protection of oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq War.

In 1990, VS-37, having added aerial tanker to its roles, supported Operation Desert Shield from the deck of the USS Independence (CV-62) in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. After upgrading to the S-3B in 1992, VS-37 made its last two deployments on board the Kitty Hawk , including support of the no-fly zone over Iraq and retaliatory strikes against Iraq in January 1993. VS-37 was redesignated Sea Control Squadron 37 (also VS-37) on 16 September 1993.

VS-37 was disestablished at NAS North Island on 31 March 1995.


—Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)

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