|Electronic Attack Squadron 138|
|Active||February 1976 - present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Airborne Electronic Attack|
|Part of||Commander, Electronic Attack Wing Pacific|
|Garrison/HQ||Naval Air Station Whidbey Island|
|Motto(s)||“Nihil Minor Quam Optime”
”Nothing Less Than The Best”
|Ensign Kris "Big Tuna" Riel|
|This article does not cite any sources. (May 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (VAQ-138), also known as the "Yellow Jackets", is an expeditionary EA-18G Growler squadron of the United States Navy based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Their radio callsign is "RAMPAGE".
1970s – 1990s
VAQ-138 was established as an operational squadron in February 1976 and made its first deployment aboard USS Saratoga to the Mediterranean Sea. The squadron completed three more deployments to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS John F. Kennedy during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Following the Mediterranean/Indian Ocean cruise in 1982 aboard Kennedy, the squadron joined USS Ranger for a deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean in 1983. After 1984, the squadron made eight deployments aboard USS Nimitz, participating in Central American operations in 1985, the Libya airstrikes in 1986, Operations Desert Storm and Provide Comfort in 1991, and Operation Southern Watch in 1993, 1996, and a 1997-1998 around-the-world deployment.
In November 1996 the squadron filled a two-month gap in EA-6B coverage at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Upon their return, workups were started for an around-the-world cruise on the USS Nimitz. Following their 1997-1998 Persian Gulf deployment the squadron was awarded the 1997 Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award, the 1997 Battle Efficiency Award, the 1997 CNO Aviation Safety Award, and the 1998 Golden Anchor Award.
In April 1999, VAQ-138 deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy to conduct combat operations over Serbia and Kosovo during Operation Allied Force. While deployed to Aviano, the squadron flew over 500 combat sorties and fired more than 60 AGM-88 HARM against Serbian targets. Three weeks after returning from Italy, the squadron began work-ups aboard the USS John C. Stennis, which culminated in a Western Pacific and Persian Gulf deployment, during which they conducted two and a half months of missions in support of Operation Southern Watch.
The September 11, 2001 attacks found the squadron underway for work-ups aboard the USS John C. Stennis, and resulted in an accelerated work-up cycle and deployment to the Northern Persian Gulf. The squadron commenced combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on December 17, 2001 and included missions in support of Operation Anaconda. The squadron returned to NAS Whidbey Island following seven months of deployment in June 2002.
In September 2002, the squadron began work-ups for an eight-month deployment to the Western Pacific from January though September 2003. During this time, the squadron transitioned to the Block 89A configuration of the EA-6B, and conducted the first operational deployment of the Block 89A. During the deployment, the squadron executed detachments to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; MCAS Iwakuni, Japan; Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan and participated in Exercise Foal Eagle in Korea.
The squadron departed San Diego in February 2005 and sailed into Norfolk, VA, on the last day of July after flying over 300 combat sorties and amassing over 1600 combat flight hours during four months of supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
VAQ-138 departed Naval Air Station North Island, California on 18 January 2007 for the USS John C. Stennis to begin their seven-month Western pacific deployment with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9), during which they supported the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The squadron amassed over 650 flight hours consisting of combat missions over Afghanistan and Iraq. During their 2007 WESTPAC, the four EA-6B ICAP III Prowlers of VAQ-138 logged over 1,700 flight hours, and achieved a 96% combat sortie completion rate.
Following their 2009 cruise on board the USS John C. Stennis, the squadron began transitioning to the EA-18G Growler. They were certified 'Safe for Flight' in their new aircraft in August 2010.
VAQ-138 is now considered the best Growler squadron in the fleet. This status is largely attributed to their superior First Class Petty Officer Association and their motto '60 percent of the time, we fly every time.' It has been said that the most talented Plane Captain branch in the Navy resides on Whidbey Island in a tiny Line Shack at Electronic Attack Squadron One-Three-Eight. "Our success is measured by these Plane Captains at VAQ-138, launching and recovering our jets day-in and day-out is no easy task and they do it skillfully, efficiently, and professionally!"- Big Tuna.