By: LTJG Brandon Hill-Rogers, VAQ-139 Public Affairs Officer
NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASH. (NNS)The “Cougars” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139, under the command of Commander David W. Skarosi, were presented with the Navy’s Aviation Battle Effectiveness Award for CY2016 by Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, U.S. Naval Air Forces,, March 9.
Skarosi attested that VAQ-139 completed 120 Growler Weapons and Tactics Program (GWTP) syllabus events and flew 1,014 sorties for a total of 1,478.5 mishap free flight hours. This includes support of joint interoperability exercises with the United States Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Red Flag 16-3; as well as support to the Naval Air Warfare Development Center at NAS Fallon, NV.
“The men and women of VAQ-139 honed their tactical abilities and set the gold standard for efficiency and professionalism this year,” said Skarosi. “During 2016, VAQ-139 participated in five major detachments and flawlessly executed all major required inspections.”
The Cougars also executed two successful carrier qualification detachments, one on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the other on board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Lastly, the team took part in employing an AIM-120B advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and squadrons from CVW-17 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.
“What makes a squadron great isn’t merely its attendance at Air Force detachments and carrier qualifications,” said Skarosi. “VAQ-139 is great because of its people and the environment that they create.”
Skarosi added that VAQ-139 also completed nine Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) inspections, six of which was to support Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific (CSFWP) from NAS Lemoore.
“During our Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI) in September 2016, the Cougar standard of ‘by the book’ maintenance practices, managerial attention to detail, and a willingness to learn earned our team a perfect score of 170 out of 170 with no adverse comments,” said Skarosi. “The inspectors from the Electronic Attack Weapons School lauded the command’s qualification and certification programs and ability to ensure weapons systems are ready for mission tasking as ‘best in the business’.”
The Cougars Maintenance Department was also praised by Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific for consistently providing more ready for flight aircraft the flight line standard.
“The men and women of VAQ-139 are ready warriors with undying devotion to duty,” said Command Master Chief Samuel Olmstead. “It is not readiness metrics or hours flown that make a squadron, it is the people who make a squadron.”
“They exhibited quality and tenacity in their pursuit of combat readiness and battle efficiency as they successfully tackled each new challenge,” said Shoemaker. “These squadrons epitomize the high standards and professionalism shared by the officers, Sailors, and aviators across our Naval Aviation forces. You have my personal congratulations on a job well done!”
VAQ-139 provides Electronic Warfare in support of air and ground forces around the world as directed by the Secretary of Defense.
The Navy’s Battle Effectiveness Award, commonly known as the Battle “E”, is presented to a small number of units navy-wide including ships, submarines, and aviation squadrons for overall readiness to carry out its assigned wartime task. Presentation of the award is based on a command’s performance in their duties during a given calendar year. The Cougars were the recipients out of all embarked Electronic Attack Squadrons in the Pacific Fleet.