Monday, April 07, 2008

VAQ-142 Returns to Whidbey Island from Iraq Deployment

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

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, the Gray Wolves, returned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island during a two day fly-in, March 29 and April 2.

The Gray Wolves returned from an approximately six-month deployment to Al Asad Air Base in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron conducted approximately 750 sorties logging 3,600 hours of flight time during the deployment.

"The primary mission for us was to support the troops," said Cmdr. Jim Stoneman, VAQ-142 commanding officer. "Everything we did over there was based on keeping the guys on the ground safe."

With their 24 air crew and about 170 maintenance and support personnel, VAQ-142 attained a 99.6 percent mission accomplishment rate. For their efforts, each air crew member who participated in the entire deployment earned an average of four Air Medals, totaling 95 for the squadron.

"It's a good feeling, the real satisfaction is knowing that we were helping the guys on the ground who were really in harm's way, and helped them come home safely," said Stoneman. "We usually got pretty good feedback, they were happy to have us around."

The squadron leadership was happy with the results of their deployment and the effort put forth by all involved to ensure their success.

"We just had a phenomenal time. We went out, did our mission, and took everyone back that we took there, so mission accomplished. We're pretty happy," said Cmdr. Rich Meadows, VAQ-142 executive officer. "Everyone stepped up and did a great job, under fairly arduous conditions at times."

For the VAQ community, the deployments happen often, but to some that's not a deterrent. The Gray Wolves are eager to continue during their part to support the war on terrorism.

"What a super group of guys and girls we've got here, it comes fast and furious, we have a really short turn around right now," said Meadows. "We're probably going to be gearing up real soon to go back out there, but we're looking forward to it. We welcome it."