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VP-8 Completes Operation Valiant Shield 2012 Exercise

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120928-04

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pedro A. Rodriguez, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (NNS) -- The 'Fighting Tigers' of Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 participated in the Valiant Shield 2012 (VS12) exercise, Sept. 11-19.

VS12 is a U.S. only exercise with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces in relation to current operational plans.

Participating for the first time in Valiant Shield, the Fighting Tigers provided two combat air crews, as well as supporting maintenance personnel, who worked with multiple P-3C Orion crews from Jacksonville, Fla. and Whidbey Island, Wash.

"Each unit brought with it different levels of proficiency in conducting operations in this type of environment," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Benjamin, VP-8 detachment officer in charge. "The ability of all units to come together as one joint force, while overcoming different proficiency levels, directly enabled our success."

The 2011 Golden Wrench Award recipient, VP-8 maintenance team worked around the clock to keep the 50-year-old Orion ready to fly. Despite operating with minimal personnel and equipment the squadron's maintainers didn't miss a step throughout the exercise, ensuring on time take offs on all flights.

"We had to overcome a few challenges since we were on detachment and unable to bring everything and everyone with us," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic James Agner, VP-8 detachment maintenance control leading chief petty officer. "Regardless, the job had to get done no matter what challenges we faced. Our maintenance team always found the way to overcome adversity and kept our P-3's flying so our aircrew could complete their missions."

VP-8 also utilized the exercise to hone their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance skills working closely with both U.S. Navy surface vessels and U.S. Air Force aircraft.

"We had interaction in all four of my flights with the participating surface ships. The communications were smooth which allowed us to complete all of our missions without delays," said Lt. Jeffrey Buck, Combat Aircrew 3 mission commander. "We also had the opportunity to train with the P-8A which was a great experience for the entire crew.It was exciting to experience how both aircraft were able to seamlessly work together to complete tasking."

"VP-8 entered this exercise during month four of their 7th Fleet deployment. The Fighting Tigers were ready for the VS12 missions, and made significant contributions to the overall success of the exercise," said Benjamin. By exercise end, VP-8 flew 72 hours during 10 missions, all leading to a successful finish with a 100-percent mission completion rate.

According to U.S. 7th Fleet, this high-level, joint training among U.S. military forces ensures the U.S. military remains the preeminent military in the region, capable of honoring its security commitments to allies, partners and friends.

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