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Gray Wolves to Return to NAS Whidbey Island after WESTPAC Deployment

12/04/17 12:00 AM

NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – The “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 will return to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Dec. 5 after a six-month deployment to the Indo-Asia Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf.

The squadron embarked aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) for the deployment and conducted an array of missions including support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

The 193 men and women of VAQ-142 departed their home station of NAS Whidbey Island June 4, bound for NAS North Island in San Diego. There, with five EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, the Gray Wolves joined Carrier Air Wing (CVW)11 aboard Nimitz and headed west across the Pacific Ocean with its strike group.

"This particular deployment has presented a number of unique challenges to the Gray Wolf team,” said VAQ-142 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Brett Stevenson. “From enduring the daily onslaught of triple digit temperatures and humidity of the Arabian Gulf, to the fast-paced and complex environment in which our aircrews operated over Iraq and Syria, this team delivered flawlessly on a daily basis with pride and professionalism. I'm extremely proud of what this team has accomplished, and they can each return home with the confidence that they made a very real difference in the fight against our adversaries in the region."

The Gray Wolves, along with CVW-11, joined the Indian Navy for Exercise Malabar, a trilateral exercise combining naval forces of the U.S., India, and Japan that strengthened relationships and increased interoperability between the navies. After a brief visit to Chennai, India, the Gray Wolves proceeded to the Arabian Gulf in the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations.

The Gray Wolves flew more than 1,000 hours and executed almost 200 combat missions to Iraq and Syria in support of OIR. The squadron also provided electronic attack during two expeditionary operating base detachments in support of high-priority U.S. Central Command tasking, totaling close to 500 sorties and more than 1,500 hours throughout all C5F operations.

Sailors of VAQ-142 had the opportunity to experience local culture during port calls in Manama, Bahrain, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as participate in volunteer activities while ashore to strengthen ties with overseas partners.

Before heading back to the U.S., Nimitz Carrier Strike Group participated in three-carrier strike force operations in the Western Pacific alongside the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Strike Groups. The Gray Wolves flew in exercises combining the air wings of all three carriers and B-1B Lancer aircraft from the U.S. Air Force.

“This is my third deployment and this one was definitely the hottest,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 1st Class Jerome Boring, a Pensacola, Florida, native. “There's a certain measure of extra pride and professionalism I see when it comes to working on the Growlers. There's a desire in the squadron to take the time and get everything right and make sure our planes not only work their best, but also look their best."

During the deployment 16 Gray Wolves earned their Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist qualification, while eight advanced to paygrade E-4, eight to E-5 and two advanced to E-6.  VAQ-142 leadership also awarded Sailors 16 Air Medals, two Safety Professionals awards, three Navy Commendation Medals, 29 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, nine Good Conduct Medals, 10 flag letters of commendation, 21 letters of commendation, and seven letters of appreciation.

VAQ-142 provides worldwide tactical airborne electronic attack against targets at sea or ashore in support of U.S. and coalition combat forces.

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