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VAQ-138 "Yellow Jackets" Return Home to Whidbey Island

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070828-21
Release Date: 8/28/2007 4:25:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Northwest

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 138 “Yellow Jackets” returned home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Aug. 26-27 after a deployment aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

The "Yellow Jackets" were deployed for more than seven months, conducting missions in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“We spent about 80 percent of our time in Afghanistan supporting the coalition, U.S. Army and Marine forces there,” said Cmdr. John Thompson, VAQ-138 commanding officer.

VAQ-138 logged approximately 1,800 flight hours with their four aircraft. They brought six crews with them, each comprised of one pilot and three electronic counter-measure officers and supported by approximately 200 enlisted personnel.

“It was a long and vigorous deployment, but it was a great achievement,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class (AW) Eugene Gustilo. “I didn’t really know what it was like for the troops on the ground, but it was satisfying to hear their appreciation for our support in the air.”

The "Yellow Jackets" sent an advance detachment back to Whidbey Island last month to prepare for the squadron’s arrival. The four EA-6B Improved Capability III Prowlers returned Aug. 26, and the main body of the squadron arrived Aug. 27.

“These aircraft are the top-of-the-line, the newest and greatest,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Orr. “They’re the bridge for the E/A-18 (Growler), and they allowed us to perform our mission very well.”

The Stennis visited six ports-of-call including three visits to the United Arab Emirates, single stops in Singapore, Hong Kong and finally Hawaii to pick up friends and family members before coming home. They also participated in community service projects during their time in Singapore.

The "Yellow Jackets" are happy to be home and see family and friends.

“I was trying to hold back my tears of joy when we arrived,” said Gustilo. “As soon as I saw my son running up to me, they just came pouring out.”

Even though they were home, the work didn’t stop for the squadron. The aircraft needed looking after, and the Sailors made sure to take care of the mission first.

“Advance detachment personnel hit the deck running by washing the four aircraft and preparing two in the hangar for maintenance,” said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Stephen Sigler. “They’re looking forward to being home and enjoying themselves with their families.”

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