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CVW-17 Returns from Deployment

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Story Number: NNS041213-11
Release Date: 12/13/2004 4:32:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Jennifer Crenshaw, Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 returned home Dec. 12 and 13 from USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) to their various home stations.

Returning to Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk were the "Tigertails" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 flying the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, and Det. 4 from the "Rawhides" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 operating C-2A Greyhound aircraft.

F/A-18 Hornet squadrons that returned to Naval Air Station Oceana were the "Blueblasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34; the "Rampagers" of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-83; and the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-81.

Fighter Squadron (VF) 103, the "Jolly Rogers," completed their final deployment in the F-14 Tomcat aircraft. The squadron will begin transitioning to the F/A-18F Super Hornet in February.

Returning to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., were the "Diamond Cutters" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 30 flying their S-3B Viking, as well as 35 Sailors from Sea Operations Detachment for the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department who returned with Kennedy. The "Red Lions" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 15 returned on Dec. 13 in their SH-60 Seahawks.

The EA-6B Prowlers of Electric Attack Squadron (VAW) 132 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., on Dec. 12.

SH-60B "Seahawks" squadrons of Destroyer Squadron 24 that returned to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., are the "Proud Warriors" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Det. 8, the "Grandmasters" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light HSL-46, Det. 8, and the "Vipers" of HSL-48, Det. 9.

In addition to the returning aircraft, more than 900 personnel from the air wing will be airlifted from Naval Station Mayport, Fla., to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., beginning late Dec. 13 and continuing through to the Dec. 14.

Aircraft from the air wing played key roles in supporting coalition ground forces during the operations in Fallujah, Iraq, that began Nov. 7. As coalition forces swept through Fallujah, clearing it of insurgents, CVW-17 joined Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft in striking key positions. During the height of operations, CVW-17 aircraft flew an average of 38 missions a day in support of ground troops.

"Our success in Fallujah as an air wing is a testament to the Sailors that work on the ships and on the flight deck," said Capt. Mark Guadagnini, commander, CVW-17. "We couldn't afford to fail. The international community and the Iraqi nation were depending on us."

Together, the squadrons of CVW-17 flew 8,296 sorties for a total flight time of 21,824 hours. Of that total, 4,396 sorties and 11,607 flight hours were in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In all, they dropped 54,000 pounds of ordnance.

The VFA-34 "Blueblasters" dropped the Navy's first two 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), during combat operations over Iraq. The JDAM provides the war fighter with more flexibility and helps reduce collateral damage. The new bombs are existing unguided bombs with a guidance kit that converts them into precision-guided "smart" munitions. VFA-34's weapons destroyed the target, where insurgents were known to be operating in Iraq.

"[Kennedy Carrier Strike Group's] men and women are a testament to the bravery and skill of the American and coalition forces promoting stability in the Middle East through peacetime security cooperation, deterrence and credible crisis response," said Vice Adm. Dave Nichols, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and commander, U.S. 5th Fleet.



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