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Grey Wolves homeward bound

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005412233023
Story by 1st Lt. Cary D. Mittelmark

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (April 13, 2005) -- Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 142 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Ala. recently, after a highly successful six-month deployment here.

The Grey Wolves deployed to Japan in early October, flying EA-6B Prowlers across the Pacific to their deployment site in Iwakuni. Upon arrival, the squadron immediately began planning and flying sorties in support of Keen Sword 2004, a joint force exercise involving both U.S. and Japanese forces.

While in Japan, the squadron also participated in Beverly Midnight, Terminal Fury and Foal Eagle joint exercises, as well as supporting Operation Unified Assistance, the U.S. led effort to aid impoverished tsunami victims in the Pacific region.

The Squadron flew 343 sorties totaling more than 690 hours on the deployment. Aircrew used the time wisely, completing 97 Prowler Weapons and Tactics Program syllabus events including six level II upgrades and two mission commander upgrades (pilots moved up in flight levels).

“It was outstanding to see the initiative and dedication shown by the junior officers,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael G. Frantz, VAQ-142 electronic warfare officer. “They really impressed me with their mission planning and execution. I haven’t seen that kind of excellence since I left the Naval Strike Air Warfare Command.”

The squadron continued its impressive streak of over 11,750 mishap-free flight hours, dating back to when VAQ-142 was established in 1997. Instrumental to this streak is the professionalism and quality standards of the maintenance department.

“The department continues to set the bar for excellence,” said Lt. Cmdr. Russ T. Horr, VAQ-142 maintenance officer. “They can be proud of everything they have accomplished.”

According to Navy Lt. Cary D. Mittelmark, VAQ-142 unit information officer, maintenance sailors performed superbly throughout the deployment, achieving a 93 percent sortie completion rate. They performed two 364-day inspections toward the end of the deployment, a major undertaking, including one while supporting a major exercise.

Also, the Power Plants shop was instrumental in a quick drop and change of the port motor on one of the aircraft, allowing that aircraft to return to full mission capable status in minimal time and facilitating aircraft turnover, added Mittelmark.

“Overall, the six months in Iwakuni were extremely productive and afforded a great opportunity to get to know Japanese culture and customs,” said Mittelmark. “The Gray Wolves are now looking forward to some well-earned leave and the pleasant Whidbey summer, as they are reunited with their loved ones.”

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