Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Screwtops" Return from Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Tyler Jones, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

Just in time for the holidays, the "Screwtops" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 returned home to Naval Station Norfolk Dec. 18, ending five months aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

VAW-123 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 and was deployed alongside the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 and the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 "Fighting Checkmates" who also returned Dec. 18 to their home at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.

During the deployment, VAW-123 provided airborne command, control and communications using their E-2C Hawkeye fixed-wing aircraft.

"This deployment was very successful, both for the squadron and the air wing," said Cmdr. Terry Morris, commanding officer of VAW-123. "We helped play a part in (U.S. Central Command), but most importantly, we got everyone home safely."

Through the duration of the deployment, CVW 1 participated in strikes against enemy targets in both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. In total, more than 7,500 missions were flown, 1,676 of those were combat missions.

Collectively, the aircraft delivered 36,500 pounds of air-to-ground ordnance and fired more than 4,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition. Crews flew a total of 20,300 hours and completed more than 6,500 arrest landings.

With VAW-123's mission complete, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Downey, a flight officer attached to VAW-123, said he is relieved to be home with his family just as the holiday season hits full swing.

"This is a long-awaited day for me and my family," said Downey. "It feels awesome to be home, and I can't wait to go on vacation with my family."

The deployment was the second for CVW 1 in the past two years.