Four NAF Squadrons Score Battle 'E' Awards
Story Number: NNS050503-07
Release Date: 5/3/2005 11:33:00 AM
By Jeff Kraftchak, Naval Air Facility Atsugi Public Affairs
ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- Four squadrons permanently forward deployed to Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi earned the Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVAIRPAC), Battle Efficiency (Battle ‘E’) Award for calendar year 2004.
Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 136, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14 and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 51 were notified of their selection April 15 in a naval message from COMNAVAIRPAC Vice Adm. James Zortman.
“Please accept my personal congratulations for setting the example,” Zortman said in the message. “The winning squadrons are leading the force in the global war on terrorism.”
Although impressed by each individual squadron’s achievements, Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 Capt. Joseph P. Aucoin said it was only through a group effort that they were able to cement this kind of superior recognition.
“I’m very proud of the squadrons’ accomplishments, but I consider this a team award,” he said. “It’s [a testament to] the whole air wing, but even more so, I believe that none of them would have gotten the award if not for the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and the support NAF gives us.”
Aucoin commands the nine squadrons that make up CVW-5, which deploys aboard Kitty Hawk. HSL-51, although not part of the air wing, recently established a permanent detachment aboard the carrier and regularly deploys to other ships in the region.
“The FDNF (Forward Deployed Naval Force) is a unique environment,” said Cmdr. Timothy Byerly, executive officer for VAW-115. “In CVW-5, we all stand together, work well together and could not have done it without the entire air wing [giving] a team effort.”
“For these four squadrons to win the award — the majority of those given in the Pacific — is quite remarkable,” said Aucoin. “I’ve never seen this before; it speaks tremendously of the people and the kind of squadrons we have here.”
The sentiment was a common theme among the other squadrons.
“There is a definite cohesiveness,” said VAQ-136 Administrative Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jay Matzko. “It’s pretty special and is indicative of the kind of teamwork we possess.”
“We all rely heavily on each other,” said Cmdr. Eric Patten, commanding officer of HSL-51. “I know that we can rely on everyone to back each other up.”
When deploying together, each squadron has one or more specific roles to help ensure the mission is accomplished.
“We have a good brotherhood, a real fraternity out here in the FDNF,” said Patten. “Having four squadrons from the same air wing win the Battle ‘E’ is unique, but it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone; all of these squadrons are of a superior caliber.”
In the past 20 years, the four squadrons have been honored with a total of 19 Battle ‘E’ Awards. While justifiably proud of the recognition garnered through the awards, the squadrons agree it is important to keep things in perspective.
“[This award] is indicative of the hard work everyone in the Navy does every day,” Byerly said. “It’s a snapshot in time that shows the pride we all feel in putting the security of the United States into the forefront.”
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