The Fighting Checkmates of Navy Strike Fighter Squadron Two Eleven (VFA-211) went aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in March of 2012 for a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. When the Big E returned to Norfolk eight months later, she was laid up and then decommissioned. VFA-211 created a cruise video during the deployment that is poignant, funny, dramatic, and in places starkly beautiful. The flying scenes are simply awesome. If this is the first cruise video you watch you’ll have to watch a bunch more of them to find one that looks better than this one does. The audio cuts out for about five minutes roughly 25 minutes in but you might not even notice. Thanks to YouTuber Salmon Boss Ross for sharing this video.
Along with the Fighting Checkmates on the Big E’s final deployment were Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) consisting of VFA-211, VFA-11 Red Rippers flying the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, VMFA-251 Thunderbolts flying the Boeing F/A-18C Hornet, VFA-136 Knighthawks flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet, VAQ-137 World Famous Rooks flying the Grumman EA-6B Growler, VAW-123 Screwtops flying the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye 2000NP, and HS-11 Dragon Slayers flying Sikorsky HH-60C and SH-60F Seahawk helos. The Enterprise made port calls at Piraeus in Greece, Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, Manama in Bahrain, Naples in Italy, and Mayport Naval Station in Florida USA before retiring to Norfolk in November of 2012.
The final deployment of the Enterprise was also the last time the World Famous Rooks deployed flying the venerable Grumman EA-6B Prowler. They subsequently transitioned to the Boeing EA-18G Growler. VFA-211 (call sign Nikel) began as VB-74 in 1945. They began in 1945 flying Curtiss SB2C Helldivers. They have also flown Douglas AD Skyraiders, Vought F4U Corsairs, Grumman F9F Panthers, North American FJ Furies, McDonnell F3H Demons, Grumman F-11 Tigers, and Vought F-8 Crusaders. The squadron was designated VF-24 or VA-24 for many years. In 1959 VF-24 and VF-211 swapped air wings and designations. VF-211 transferred to Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar in California during 1961 and remained based there for 35 years, finally moving to NAS Oceana in Virginia during 1996 when Miramar became a Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS). VF-211 transitioned from the F-8 to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in 1975 and flew them until 2003 when they were re-equipped with Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and re-designated VFA-211.