VAW-123 was originally commissioned in 1964 as a detachment of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron TWELVE (VAW-12), flying the E-2A Hawkeye. 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 later became part of Carrier Air Wing THREE and sailed aboard USS SAROTOGA (CV 60), USS AMERICA (CV 66), USS KENNEDY (CV 67), USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) and USS WASHINGTON (CVN 73). Today VAW-123 is assigned to Carrier Air Wing ONE. The squadron throughout the years has made deployments to the Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, Pacific Ocean, 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. Deploying eight days after September 11, the SCREWTOPS were critical participants in the War on Terror, acting as airborne command and control for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in the skies over Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Deploying in August 2003 with USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), 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 that same deployment VAW-123 became the squadron of choice for conventional units as well as special operations forces deployed to Iraq in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
In March 2006 VAW-123 once again deployed with Carrier Air Wing ONE and ENTERPRISE in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. In 2007, the SCREWTOPS were called upon once again to provide expert command and control services to these operations on board ENTERPRISE.
In 2011, the SCREWTOPS deployed with Carrier Air Wing ONE on a six month deployment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. After an eight month turnaround, the SCREWTOPS deployed once again in March 2012 for eight months with Carrier Air Wing ONE on board ENTERPRISE in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, flying 562 sorties and 1,935 mishap-free flight hours.
Since their return from deployment in November 2012, VAW-123 expertly provided airborne command and control to both fleet and joint assets, greatly contributing to air wing readiness while enhancing warfighting interoperability. Throughout the course of the last year, the squadron participated in a variety of high profile exercises with US Air Force, British Air Force, and Air National Guard units including WESTERN ZEPHYR, RAZOR TALON, and SUDDEN DRAGON. In 2013 VAW-123 received the Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing “TOP HOOK” Award for having the best aircraft carrier landing grades of all East Coast E-2 squadrons.