VAW-123 was commissioned in 1964 as VAW-12, officially known as Carrier Early Warning Squadron TWELVE, which flew the E-2A aircraft. Through reorganization, VAW-12 Detachment 59 was commissioned VAW-123 in April 1967, under the command of CDR W. L. Hill.
Initially attached to Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN (CVW 17) aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59), the squadron was moved to CVW 3 on the USS SAROTOGA (CV 60), USS AMERICA (CV 66) and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). Today VAW-123 is attached to Carrier Air Wing One (CVW 1) and USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The squadron throughout the years has made deployments to the Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Arabian and Red Sea and the North Atlantic.
The SCREWTOPS were key participants in the 1986 Gulf of Sidra operations off the coast of Libya, and were directly involved in the first combat use of the HARM (High speed Anti- Radiation Missile) and Harpoon anti-ship weapon systems. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, VAW-123 was the only E-2 squadron to operate in both the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, as well as operating a two aircraft expeditionary detachment out of Kuwait. In support of national goals, the squadron executed countless flights for Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. In March 2002, the SCREWTOPS were critical participants to the War on Terror acting as airborne command and control for Operation Enduring Freedom in the skies over Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Deploying with USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) in August 2003, VAW-123 opened a new chapter in carrier aviation by being the first carrier-based Navy squadron to operate an expeditionary detachment in support of special warfare units. Under combat conditions with hostile fire in Northern Afghanistan, the squadron provided airborne command control to coalition aircraft and time sensitive targeting coordination to special operations forces for Operation Mountain Resolve. In addition, the squadron pioneered night vision for the Hawkeye through dedicated research and usage during this critical operation. Integrating into forward deployed operations, VAW 123 became the squadron of choice for conventional units as well as special operations forces deployed to Iraq. The squadron continued its evolution into expeditionary warfare when it deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and performed important diplomatic liaison in Dubai, UAE.
In February 2005, the SCREWTOPS played a critical role in Operation South Bound Trooper, a massive multinational exercise. Currently VAW-123 continues to live up to its legacy of excellence as part of CVW 1, embarked once again onboard USS ENTERPRISE. While operating in the Persian Gulf, VAW-123 played strategically critical roles in both Operation Sea Dragon and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ENTERPRISE then became the first East Coast carrier to operate in the Pacific Theatre in nearly 20 years, operating in the vicinity of Korea, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia. After leaving the Pacific, the SCREWTOPS and the rest of CVW-1, distinguished themselves in Afghanistan, providing desperately needed air support to Coalition Forces in their efforts to drive back the Taliban resurgence. Here the SCREWTOPS once again blazed the trail of yet new capabilities of the E-2 aircraft and AEW community as a whole, providing coordination, communications and control of aerial assets in Afghanistan. VAW-123 continues to lead the AEW community through its pursuit of excellence in traditional mission roles and as an innovator in expanding the roles and capabilities of the Hawkeye aircraft.