VAQ-137

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Electronic Attack Squadron 137
Electronic Attack Squadron 137 (US Navy) patch 2014.png
VAQ-137 insignia
Active 14 December 1973 - present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Role Airborne Electronic Attack
Part of Carrier Air Wing One
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
Nickname Rooks
Commanders
Current
commander
Commander T. Estes
Aircraft flown
Attack EA-6B Prowler
EA-18G Growler

Electronic Attack Squadron 137 (VAQ-137) also known as the "Rooks", is a United States Navy electronic attack squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Washington.

The "Rooks" are an operational fleet squadron that flies the Boeing EA-18G Growler. The "Rooks" are attached to Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1), which is currently assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Their radio callsign is "Rook" and their tailcode is "AB" of CVW-1.[1]

History[edit]

Since their original commissioning on 14 December 1973, the Rooks of VAQ-137 have flown three versions of the Grumman EA-6B Prowler aboard six different aircraft carriers in every major theater. They've earned four Navy Unit Commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, six Battle "E”s, three Navy Expeditionary Medals, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, one Humanitarian Service Medal and four Safety "S" awards. In 1988, the squadron was awarded the Prowler Excellence Award. Twice the Rooks were selected "Prowler Squadron of the Year", and four times they've been awarded the prestigious Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for highest achievement in electronic warfare among all VAQ/VMAQ squadrons. VAQ 137 first deployed in 1974 with CVW-14 for a WESTPAC cruise aboard USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), flying EXCAP Prowlers. In April 1975, on station in the South China Sea, Rooks operated non-stop to provide essential electronic surveillance for OPERATION FREQUENT WIND, the evacuation of Americans from Saigon . Between 1976 and 1978, the ROOKS made two Med cruises with CVW-6 aboard USS America (CV-66). In April 1976, the squadron provided standoff ECM support for the evacuation of Americans from civil-war-torn Beirut, Lebanon . During the two cruises, the ROOKS obtained emitter data and the first Navy photos of the USSR 's Kiev class aircraft carrier and their newest Kara class cruiser. Between 1979 and 1982, VAQ-137 made three WESTPAC cruises with CVW-2 aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61). In January 1981, the ROOKS were on station in the North Arabian Sea when the Iranians released 52 American hostages held since November 1979. In March, USS Ranger (CV-61) received the Humanitarian Service Medal for the rescue of 138 Vietnamese "boat people" after a VAQ-137 crew sighted them. In 1983, the ROOKS joined CVW-3 for an action-packed Med cruise aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). In November, they participated in a coordinated French/US air strike against an Iranian training camp at Baalbek, Lebanon. In December, they participated in a strike against SAM/AAA sites east of Beirut, providing essential radar jamming.

In February 1984, the ROOKS flew support missions while multi-national peacekeeping forces pulled out of Lebanon . In 1984, the ROOKS were the first EA-6B squadron to transition to ICAP II. Between 1985 and 1987, the squadron made two Med cruises with CVW-17 aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60). After the Italian cruiseliner, MS Achille Lauro, was hijacked in October 1985, CVW-17 aircraft intercepted the hijackers' plane and forced them to land at a NATO airfield. In March 1986, VAQ-137 co-authored and participated in the successful air strike against an SA-5 site at Sirte, Libya.

In 1989, the ROOKS joined CVW-1 for a Med and Indian Ocean cruise aboard USS America (CV-66). During nine months at sea, VAQ-137 participated in nine major exercises in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean . They sailed from the Arctic Circle to the Equator via the Suez Canal . In August, when Lieutenant Colonel Higgens, USMC, was brutally executed in Lebanon, USS America (CV-66) emergency sortied from Singapore to be on station in the North Arabian Sea . The Rooks provided critical electronic surveillance for contingency operations. When the United States evacuated the Beirut Embassy in September, the Rooks were airborne within hours of entering the Mediterranean providing EW support to the operation. In December 1990, the Rooks deployed aboard USS America (CV-66) with five ICAP 2 Prowlers in support of OPERATION DESERT STORM. During 212 combat sorties, the Rooks provided ECM coverage and fired 30 HARM missiles in support of the United Nations Coalition Forces. VAQ-137 was the only EA-6B squadron to fight the war from both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Following the cease-fire, the Rooks completed the Desert Storm deployment with a successful five aircraft TransMed and TransLant fly-off en route to Whidbey Island . After only four months, VAQ-137 returned to USS America (CV-66) in August 1991, and deployed to the North Atlantic for operations in the Norwegian Fjords during NORTHSTAR '91. In December 1991, the Rooks deployed aboard USS America (CV-66) for MED 2-91. After three months of Mediterranean operations the USS America (CV-66) sortied again for the Persian Gulf in March 1992. The Rooks were the first EA-6B squadron who had fought in DESERT STORM to return to the area arriving on station a mere 12 months after the war. VAQ-137’s last deployment ended in February 1994. During that deployment, the Rooks participated in Operation Continue Hope over Somalia, southern watch over Iraq and Deny Flight over Bosnia . The Rooks were formally disestablished at 1330, 26 May 1994.

In 1995, Program Budget Decisions 752 and 753 detailed the commissioning of 5 EA-6B squadrons to replace the USAF EF-111A Raven in fulfilling the Joint Electronic Attack role. VAQ-137 is the third of those five squadrons to be commissioned. VAQ-137 was re-established at 1300, 3 October 1996 onboard Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Washington . Upon reaching full operational capability, the Rooks were assigned to carrier Air Wing One and deployed aboard the USS George Washington (CVN-73) within one year of re-establishment. During the 1997 deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, the Rooks led the EA-6B community and Air Wing One in all operational comparisons: 91 combat missions, 275 combat hours, 618 flight hours, 230 arrested landings, and a 100% Operation Southern Watch sortie completion rate. In addition, the ROOKS operated the largest carrier based EA-6B squadron in history; eight aircraft deployed and seven flown back to NAS Whidbey Island. The Rooks assimilated 3 additional aircraft, 12 aircrew, and 10 maintenance personnel to meet the increased JCS CONOPS requirements. At the conclusion of the deployment, VAQ-137 was awarded the Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet, Battle Efficiency Award for outstanding performance during 1997 and the semi-annual Safety “S” for the second half of 1997.

In September 1999, the Rooks deployed aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) while attached to Carrier Battle Group SIX (CCG-6) and Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1). In addition to other exercises, the Rooks participated in the “Bright Star” exercise off the coast of Egypt . Once again the Rooks led the way protecting coalition aircraft from participating surface to air missile systems. Additionally, the Rooks were both the first and last members of CVW-1 to fly missions in support of Operation Southern Watch (OSW) combat sorties.

VAQ-137 deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on 19 September 2001. The Rooks were the first Prowler squadron to deploy with night vision goggles and accumulated 751 NVD hours. The Rooks spent a record 159 days at sea during OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, flying three consecutive months of 400+ hours. 254 combat sorties were flown.

In February 2003 the Rooks began Pre-deployment workups. After a disjointed workup schedule they completed TSTA III and COMTUEX in September 2003 and began deployment on 3 October 2003 with CVW-1 on board the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) .

In May 2006, the Rooks deployed onboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) as a component of Carrier Air Wing ONE and Carrier Strike Group TWO. VAQ-137 successfully conducted split site operations in AL ASAD, Iraq in direct support of the Global War on Terrorism.

An EA-6B Prowler of VAQ-137 in 2003.

In July 2007, the Rooks found themselves going back to support the troops in Iraq from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in the Persian Gulf. The Rooks successfully helped ensure the safety of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen, on the ground, during the increased operation tempo of the surge. The Rooks returned from this rigorous deployment in December 2007. Two deployments, only seven months apart, with associated workups, tested every member of the squadron and their families.

Although the Rooks had no operational commitments following two back to back deployments, VAQ-137 participated in seven major detachments while excelling in 15 Major inspections, 12 Fully Mission Capable aircraft transfers to deploying squadrons and temporary loans of six aircraft. VAQ-137 continued to support the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS), Electronic Attack Weapon School (EAWS), and CVWP while executing squadron training.

In 2010, the Rooks finally had an Inter Deployment Readiness Cycle (IDRC). The squadron’s continued support of the Electronic Attack Weapons School (EAWS) helped smooth the Rooks’ transition to a deployable asset. The squadron came together and focused on an IDRC while balancing the priorities of detachments to the east coast and rigorous maintenance requirements, including TSTA, COMTUEX, and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFX).

For the Rooks, 2011 was monopolized by a deployment and rigorous training to deploy again the following year. In the 2011 deployment, the squadron supported combat operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) and NEW DAWN (OND), as well as counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The Rooks overcame further challenges at home by transitioning from ICAP III aircraft to the older ICAP II aircraft. In short order they were ready to employ the newly accepted aircraft during Air Wing Fallon and back onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) for Carrier Qualification and Deck Certification.

The beginning of 2012 saw the Rooks prepare for deployment with COMTUEX and JTFX in January and February. After a short turnaround at home in Whidbey Island, WA, the Rooks deployed for the final voyage of USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The deployment was dominated by providing direct support for combat operations in OEF, where the Rooks amassed 165 combat sorties and 1040 combat hours. In October 2013 the Rooks were deemed 'Safe for flght' in the EA-18G. They will next deploy with CVW-1 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2014.

Since their original commissioning on 14 December 1973, the Rooks of VAQ-137 have flown three versions of the EA-6B Prowler aboard six different aircraft carriers in every major theater. They've earned four Navy Unit Commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, six Battle "E”s, three Navy Expeditionary Medals, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, one Humanitarian Service Medal and four Safety "S" awards. In 1988, the squadron was awarded the Prowler Excellence Award. Twice the Rooks were selected "Prowler Squadron of the Year", and four times they've been awarded the prestigious Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for highest achievement in electronic warfare among all AEA squadrons.

3. ROOK COMMANDING OFFICERS:

CDR R. M. McDivet (DEC73-NOV74) CDR J. K. Flyum (NOV74-NOV75) CDR G. Miller (NOV75-MAR77) CDR R. F. Dewalt (MAR77-JUN78) CDR R. F. Sullivan (JUN78-SEP79) CDR J. B. Lamb (SEP79-OCT80) CDR L. E. Gardiner (OCT80-JAN82) CDR T. J. Williams (JAN82-JUL83) CDR J. E. Eckart (JUL83-JAN85) CDR D. C. Roper (JAN85-MAY86) CDR R. C. Christian (MAY86-OCT87) CDR T. F. Noonan (OCT87-JUN89) CDR M. V. Sherrard (JUN89-OCT90) CDR R. E. Stevens (OCT90-MAR92) CDR K. G. Krech (MAR92-JUN93) CDR S. A. Ewell (JUN93-JUN94) CDR R. C. Plucker (OCT96-MAY97) CDR M. C. Geron (MAY97-OCT98) CDR J. K. Gruetzmacher (OCT98-JAN00) CDR W.T. Griffin (JAN00-APR01) CDR G.C. Peterson (APR01-AUG02) CDR B.J. Glackin (AUG02-OCT03) CDR J.S. Ruth (OCT03-FEB05) CDR K. Meenaghan (FEB05-MAY06) CDR M. Buchanan (MAY06-OCT07) CDR James Lins(OCT07-PRES) CDR G. Patenaude (JAN09-APR10) CDR D. Edgarton (APR10-JUN11) CDR M. MacNicholl (JUN11-OCT12) CDR T. Estes (OCT12-JAN14) CDR C.M. Bahner (FEB14-Present)

References[edit]

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