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CVN 76 Launches Last Tomcat

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040512-04

Release Date: 5/12/2004 9:27:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Shane Montgomery, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- An F-14 Tomcat from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8's Fighter Squadron (VF) 213 Black Lions, homeported out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., launched from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), May 10, in what was the final Tomcat to leave the deck of the ship.

With a transit date to its new homeport location in San Diego scheduled for late May, Ronald Reagan will be supporting West Coast squadrons, which do not include the F-14 Tomcat.

"Just like Ronald Reagan has a lot of innovations and is the first step to future carriers like CVN 21, our launching of the final Tomcat marks the transition the Navy is making to F/A-18 air wings and eventually the Joint Strike Fighter," said Capt. Drew Brugal, Ronald Reagan's executive officer.

Brugal started flying Tomcats in 1984. Despite his personal history with the aircraft, he is not disappointed to see it being transitioned out of the Navy.

"I'm not sad," said Brugal. "Having gone from flying F-4s to the Tomcat and seeing the benefit of getting into new technology, I view the new transition as a positive stepping stone to the next level."

After the Tomcat launched off the deck, all hands were invited to the flight deck to watch it make one final flyby. With a tip of the wing, the F-14 shot by Ronald Reagan on its way back to Oceana.

"Being part of a historic moment is an experience I'll never forget," said Airman Randall Pugh, a member of air department. "Very few people will have the honor of saying they saw the last Tomcat fly off the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, and I'll remember it the rest of my career."

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