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VAQ-134 ends combat deployment, returns to NAS Whidbey tomorrow
With Memorial Day just around the corner, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134 “Garudas” are coming home to family and friends at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station after an almost 6-month deployment in support of Operation Ensuring Freedom.
Four EA-6B Prowlers, along with 175 aircrew, maintenance and support personnel, return this week after leaving last November for duty aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
While deployed, the Garudas flew 1,190 hours, averaging over 60 hours a month per aircrew. In a couple months of combat operations, they flew 110 combat missions, both day and night providing the full spectrum electronic support to ground forces engaged in direct combat in Afghanistan.
Soldiers on the ground were always glad to know a VAQ-134 Prowler was overhead. According to one Joint Tactical Air Controller, Prowler support was a “must have,” a Navy news release states.
“We saved lives by efficiently delivering the right force at the right time to the ground commander,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Thompson of VAQ-134.
Garuda maintainers worked 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts, logging thousands of maintenance hours on the squadron’s EA-6Bs. Their tireless efforts helped to accomplish a 99 percent combat sortie completion rate, providing vital support for ground troops.
Formerly a land-based expeditionary squadron, this was only the Garudas second carrier deployment in 17 years. VAQ-134 enjoyed several interesting port calls throughout the Pacific and Middle East with the highlight being five days in Perth, Australia.
Returning with the squadron are 17 members of the Sea Operational Detachment from Fleet Readiness Center Northwest that provide technical support to keep the jets in top condition. The jet fly-in will take place Tuesday evening, while the airlift of maintenance and support personnel is scheduled for Wednesday morning.