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CVW 17 Squadrons Earn Battle 'E'

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080317-04
Release Date: 3/17/2008 12:02:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Riza Caparros, USS George Washington Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Three squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 were awarded the "Battle E," or "Excellence" for competition year 2007-2008 while underway onboard USS George Washington (GW) (CVN 73) in early March.

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 "Wildcats", Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103 "Jolly Rogers" and Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132 "Scorpions" were notified by message sent to their commanding officers the first week of March. The individual squadrons were officially notified shortly after.

VFA-131 Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician(AW/SW) Shawn McDowell says the members of his squadron worked hard and deserved the award for their efforts.

"The first thing that came to mind when I heard the news was all the hard work the squadron 'blue shirts' [enlisted personnel] gave," said McDowell. "They're the ones that shouldered all the work and earned the 'Wildcats' this award."

VFA-103 Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate(AW) Timothy White, the squadron maintenance control chief, echoed McDowell's thoughts when speaking of junior personnel in his squadron.

"We, as a squadron, were happy and excited about earning the 'Battle E,'" said White. "The hard work all the junior Sailors give day to day fixing the jets - they deserve this."

"Wildcats" Executive Officer, Cmdr. Thomas D. Bush, described the process involved in earning the "Battle E."

"There is a nomination process," said Bush. "Each squadron normally seeks endorsement from their air wing and after receiving that, a package is submitted for consideration."

Bush also noted that the final decision to determine who is the most deserving of the "Battle E" is made based on the quality of the package and the strength of the endorsements. Metrics contained in the packages, which includes the accounting of flight hours, bombs dropped, safety record milestones, qualification milestones, reenlistment/retention statistics retention within the squadron and performance during inspections are also used to determine the winner.

"In the end, it's an entire look at your whole squadron," he concluded.

Cmdr. Geffry Graf, commanding officer of VAQ-132 "Scorpions" said he has "unbelievable pride" for the crew members of his squadron.

"The 'Scorps' are very focused on the job, we have incredible leadership and we spend an awesome amount of time training, all key factors in us achieving the 'Battle E,'" continued Graf. "Their work ethic is based on strong teamwork, trust and communication – definitely, 'Battle E' worthy."

Elements of CVW-17 are currently embarked on board George Washington, underway conducting the ship's Tailored Ship's Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP) in preparation to relieve USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the Navy's forward-deployed carrier presence.

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