Tampa in Hillsborough County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)
Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park
In 1973 Libya claimed the Gulf of Sidra as a closed bay and part of its territorial waters. This prompted the United States to conduct Freedom of Navigation (FON) operations in the area. Once the claim did not meet the criteria established by international law. Libya then confronted US forces in and near the gulf, and on two occasions its fighter jets opened fire on US reconnaissance flights off the Libyan coast; once in the spring of 1973 and again in the fall of 1980. FON operations intensified when Ronald Reagan came into office; in August 1981, he authorized a large naval force, led by USS Forrestal and Nimitz, to deploy to the disputed area. The Libyan Air Force responded by deploying a high number of interceptors and fighter-bombers. Early on the morning of 18 August, when the U.S. exercise began, at least three MiG-25 'Foxbats' approached the US carrier groups, but were escorted away by F-4 Phantom IIs from Forrestal and F-14s of VF-41and VF-84 from Nimitz. The Libyans tried to establish the exact location of the U.S. naval force. Thirty-five pairs of MiG-23 ‘Floggers', MiG-25s, Sukhoi Su 20 interceptors and JFitter-Js’ and Mirage
On the morning of 19 August after having diverted from a number of Libyan “mock” attacks on the battle group the previous day, two F-14s from VF-41 “Black Aces” Fast Eagle102 (CDR Henry ‘Hank’ Kleemann/LT David ‘DJ' Venlet) (flying BuNo 160403) and Fast Eagle (LT Lawrence ‘Music’ Muczynski/LTJG James ‘Amos’ Anderson) (in BuNo 160390), were flying combat air patrol (CAP) to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise. While in the CAP pattern, the F-14s detected two Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters taking off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte.
The two P-14s set up for an intercept as the contacts headed north towards them. Only a few seconds before the crossing, at an estimated distance of 300 m, one of the Libyans fired an AA-2 "Atoll" at one of the F-14s, which missed. Then the two Sukhois split as they flew past the Americans; the leader turning to the northwest and the wingman turning southeast in the direction of the Libyan coast. The Tomcats evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire by their rules of engagement, which mandated self defense on the initiation of hostile action. The Tomcats turned hard port and came behind the Libyan jets. The Americans fired AlM-9L Sidewinders; the first kill is credited to Fast Eagle 102, the second to Fast Eagle 107. Both Libyan pilots ejected.
U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat fighter (BuNo 160403) from Fighter Squadron VF-41 Black Aces, Carrier Air Wing & (CVW-8), sits on deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68). This, aircraft with the call sign "Fast Eagle 102" (crew: CDR Henry Hank' Kleeman/LT David 'DJ’ Venlet) was one of the two aircraft that each shot down a Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 later that day after having been fired on.
Erected by Hillsborough County.
Topics and series. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • War, Cold. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #40 Ronald Reagan series list. A significant historical date for this entry is August 19, 1981.
Location. 27° 58.648′ N, 82° 21.677′ W. Marker is in Tampa, Florida, in Hillsborough County. Memorial can be reached from U.S. 301, 0.2 miles south of East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, on the right when traveling south. Marker stands within Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3602 N US Highway 301, Tampa FL 33619, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Operation Frequent Wind (here, next to this marker); Operation Praying Mantis (here, next to this marker); Operation Odyssey Dawn (here, next to this marker); Operation Eagle Claw (April 24, 1980) (here, next to this marker); Invasion of Grenada 1983 (here, next to this marker); Cambodian Campaign during mid-1970 (here, next to this marker); America’s Secret War. The Salvadoran Civil War (here, next to this marker); United States Invasion of Panama (1991) (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tampa.
Also see . . . Gulf of Sidra incident (1981). (Submitted on April 2, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 2, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 174 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 2, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.