|Electronic Attack Squadron 139|
|Active||July 1, 1983|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Airborne Electronic Attack|
|Motto||Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war
|Commander William"Kid" Fraser|
|Attack||EA-6B Prowler, EA-18G Growler|
Electronic Attack Squadron 139 (VAQ-139), also known as the "Cougars", is an EA-18G Growler squadron of the United States Navy. They specialize in electronic attack and are currently stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.
The Cougars of VAQ-139 became operational on 1 July 1983 under the command of Commander Richard A. Clark. The Cougars, home-based at NAS Whidbey Island, WA, participated in numerous exercises during their first year of operation. In 1985, the Cougars embarked on their inaugural deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean onboard USS Constellation (CV-64) as part of Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW-14).
In 1986, the Cougars won the "triple crown" of the EA-6B Prowler community by winning the 1985 CNO Aviation Safety "S" Award, first place in the 1986 Battle Readiness Competition, and the 1985-86 Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Battle "E" Award. In 1987, the Cougars improved their standards of excellence by earning a second CNO Safety "S", and a Navy Unit Commendation. The Cougars were awarded the Battle E for the squadron's second consecutive award. 1988 concluded with the Cougars beginning their third Western Pacific / Indian Ocean deployment since their establishment.
After transitioning to USS Independence (CV-62) in late 1989, the Cougars deployed in June 1990 on their fourth Western Pacific / Indian Ocean deployment. They were an essential part of the first U.S. forces responding to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield. The Cougars led numerous missions deep into the Persian Gulf and significantly contributed to contingency planning in anticipation of Operation Desert Storm.
In 1993, the Cougars transitioned to USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and began their long work-up cycle. In February 1994, the Cougars went to sea for their fifth Western Pacific / Indian Ocean deployment and were awarded the Prowler Tactical Excellence Award for superior performance throughout 1994.
In May 1996, the Cougars earned the coveted "triple crown" for the second time, receiving the Battle "E", CNO Safety S, and Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for the best Prowler squadron in the U.S. Navy. In 1997, the Cougars transitioned to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).
The Cougars deployed on their seventh Western Pacific deployment in June 1998 in support of Operation Southern Watch and once again in August 2000. The Cougars celebrated by receiving the prestigious COMNAVAIRPAC Battle "E" for excellence in combat for calendar year 2000.
On July 23, 2002, the Cougars departed for a scheduled six-month deployment to the Western Pacific/Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan and Southern Watch over Iraq. In 2002 the Cougars received their third "triple crown" in the squadron's history.
On New Year's Day 2003, the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was turned around and returned to the Persian Gulf for an extended deployment. After another month of participation in Operation Southern Watch, the Cougars became an integral part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cougar's Prowlers supported strikes deep into Baghdad during the first night of the war, and eventually flew 61 combat missions and fired 17 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. Following three weeks of intense combat operations, Lincoln left the Persian Gulf and arrived home in May 2003 after nearly 10 months at sea. The Cougars were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation in support of their efforts on the war.
In May 2004, the Cougars and CVW-14 deployed with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) to the pacific for the last time with Block 89 aircraft. Upon returning home in November 2004, the Cougars were awarded CVW-14's Golden Wrench Award for outstanding aviation maintenance.
The Cougars made history again on March 18, 2005 when they accepted the first Improved Capabilities III Prowler. With this new technology, the squadron became the forefront of tactical development in the EA community, paving the way to the EA-18G. In early February, VAQ-139 put the new systems to the test by becoming the first squadron to use the ICAP III in combat to support United States and Coalition Forces in Iraq during the ongoing efforts of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Flying over 650 sorties and 1650 combat hours in three and half months from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, the Cougars ensured protection for coalition ground forces and the development of a free Iraq.
The Cougars returned from deployment and received the 2006 Prowler Squadron of the Year for Tactical Excellence. They also were awarded the 2006 CVW-14's Golden Wrench Award and the Association of Old Crows (AOC) Award for Electronic Warfare Excellence. Additionally, the Cougars claimed the Grampaw Pettybone Award for 2006 and CNO Safety "S" for 2005.
In January 2007, the Cougars and CVW-14 left a Western Pacific (WESTPAC) Surge Deployment. For a three month surge cruise, the Cougars and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) patrolled the seas of the Western Pacific filling in for the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) while it was in port for scheduled maintenance. Soon after returning from the cruise, the Cougars snagged the Safety "S" for 2006. Recently, the Cougars once again made Prowler history by being the first operational squadron to fly the EA-6B with a new digital flight control system.
In May 2008, the Cougars began their next scheduled WESTPAC/IO deployment. They supported survivors of Typhoon Fengshen, which had affected nearly five million people in the Philippines. Following their humanitarian work, they headed to the Northern Arabian Sea to support U.S. and Coalition Forces on the ground in Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The Cougars were awarded the Battle “E,” the CNO Safety “S,” and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
In May 2009, the Cougars left again for a Surge WESTPAC/IO deployment. They continued their support of U.S. and Coalition Forces in overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan. Following their return in October, 2009, the squadron became the first to accept the newest version of the Prowler, ICAP III, Block IV.
At the beginning of 2010, the Cougars assisted VX-9 in the operational evaluation of the Block IV aircraft, testing various capability improvements to the ICAP III weapon system. In February and March, the squadron participated in Red Flag, a large force exercise with U.S. and foreign Air Force participants. At Red Flag, held at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, NV, the Cougars put their crews and aircraft through strenuous testing in a simulated war. In March, the Cougars sent two aircraft to Naval Air Station Lemoore to participate in a HARM live-fire exercise with other Air Wing aircraft.
In April the Cougars started the work-up cycle in preparation for their upcoming deployment. The men and women of VAQ-139 continue their dedication to excellence as they stand ready to protect freedom around the world.
In September the Cougars participated in Air Wing Fallon to sharpen their war fighting skills along with Carrier Air Wing Fourteen. With Air Wing Fallon complete the Cougars returned home to Whidbey Island, to begin preparing for its 2011 Persian Gulf Combat Deployment on board USS Ronald Reagan.
USS Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing Fourteen departed from San Diego, Harbor in February 2011. While on deployment VAQ-139 was informed that it had also received the 2010 Association of the Old Crows Award for Electronic Attack Excellence and the 2010 Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for Meritorious Operational Achievement by Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron. While deployed VAQ-139 conducted missions in Operation New Dawn (Iraq) and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) providing around the clock Electronic Warfare Support to coalition forces engaged in combat.
After this deployment the Cougars will be transitioning from the battle tested EA-6B Prowler to the State-of-the-Art EA-18 Growler. Utilizing this new platform and tradition of excellence the men and women of VAQ-139 continue their dedication to excellence as they stand ready to protect freedom around the world.