Scorpions return to Whidbey for holiday

Stephanie Mott, 3, gets a kiss from Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Clint Pritchett moments after he stepped off the plane at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Friday.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Stephanie Mott, 3, gets a kiss from Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Clint Pritchett moments after he stepped off the plane at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Friday.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

Most of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132, the  “Scorpions,” returned home last week following an eight-month deployment overseas, just in time for Independence Day.

Approximately 150 of the squadron’s maintenance and support personnel landed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station aboard a passenger jet Friday evening. Many stepped off the plane and into the arms of family and friends.

“I’ve been dreaming of this day since the day he left,” Jeanne Pritchett said a few minutes before the jet landed.

Pritchett, a Colorado resident, is the proud mother of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Clint Pritchett. She flew to Whidbey Island to see her son come home. She joined his wife, Chelsea Pritchett, and 3-year-old Stephanie Mott for the homecoming.

Little Stephanie was especially happy to see Clint Pritchett, jumping up for a long overdue hug and kiss. This was the family’s first deployment, and at eight months, it was a long one. They spoke often through Skype, an online video-chat service, and that helped.

However, there were times when contact was impossible and Chelsea Pritchett said she couldn’t help but worry.

“It was rough,” she said.

With two unexpected extensions, Clint Pritchett agreed that this was a particularly long deployment. But it was also a good one, with “a lot of firsts.” The Scorpions are the base’s first EA-6B Prowler squadron to transition to the Boeing-built Growler platform.

It was also the first Growler squadron to deploy when it left for Iraq in November and the first of its Super Hornet brethren to conduct an entire seven-month land-based deployment.

The 200-plus member squadron participated in Operation New Dawn from Al Asad Airbase in Iraq and Operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector with coalition forces over Libya. At the stick was Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jeff Craig.

Although the squadron’s jets and the majority of its officers aren’t set to return until this weekend, July 9, a few did return with the bulk of the squadron this past Friday. One of those was Lt. Cmdr. Adam Daymude.

After a warm greeting by his wife and four children, the man’s duties quickly changed from combat leader to dad. While playing with the kids around a giant blowup toy in the hangar, He took a moment to compliment the squadron’s maintenance and support personnel.

“They performed at a level I’ve never seen before,” he said.

For eight months straight, the squadron was conducting 24-hour operations and the “professionalism” displayed was impressive. Not only did the Scorpions accomplish everything they set out to do, but everyone came home safe and that’s a record to be proud of.

“It went very well,” Daymude said.

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