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VAQ-135 Returns to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071003-15
Release Date: 10/3/2007 5:12:00 PM

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

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, the “Black Ravens," were welcomed home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Sept. 29 and 30, after a deployment on board USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

The Black Ravens were deployed for 182 days in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Operations Iraqi Freedom as well as developing relations in Chennai, India and supporting Exercise Valiant Shield.

“Our main purpose was supporting the troops on the ground in both operations as well as providing a presence in the region,” said Cmdr. Timothy Reynolds, commanding officer of VAQ-135. “The India visit was a big effort to make better relations, given their strategic importance.”

During their deployment, the Black Ravens flew approximately 550 sorties and logged almost 950 hours of flight time with their 26 officers and approximately 150 enlisted Sailors.

“The response to our support across the board was very positive, they were grateful we were there and had the opportunity to help,” said Reynolds. “In some cases we actually talked to some of the guys we supported on certain missions and they were thrilled that we were out there to protect them. I’m satisfied we got to serve something greater than ourselves.”

Four pilots and 12 electronic countermeasure officers returned with the four EA-6B Prowlers with the rest of the crew flying in by charter aircraft. Two members of the squadron saw their newborn children for the first time upon their return to NAS Whidbey Island.

“My daughter was born on our last day of a port visit to Dubai and I was trying to call my wife, but I couldn’t get a hold of her because she drove herself to the hospital,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Oscar Cabillaje. “This is the first time seeing her and I just can’t stop kissing my baby. I love her baby smell.”

“I was a little sad to be underway when my daughter was born, but I got to hear the cries as she was delivered,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Palomino. “I guess that's about as good as it gets when you’re away. It’s great to see her now and it feels good to be home.”

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