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Yellow Jackets greet new commanding officer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station
Hangar 5 on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station was abuzz as the Yellow Jackets of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138 saw its leadership change from Cmdr. Tabb Stringer to Cmdr. Andrew DeMonte.
Music from Navy Band Northwest echoed around the hangar as squadron personnel and guests gathered for the formal change of command held May 24. The colors were presented as the band performed the national anthem. Honored guests included five survivors of Pearl Harbor, who were warmly welcomed by Cmdr. Stringer.
Capt. John Springett, Deputy Commodore of Electronic Attack Wing Pacific Fleet, was the guest speaker. He talked about the nation’s long dependence on the sea and its sea services, but admitted there are challenges ahead for tomorrow’s Navy.
“The environment you face tomorrow will be different than the challenges we face today,” Springett said. “The Navy faces internal issues; a reduction in force, fiscal stress and politics affect our lives. I can’t say it’s going to get easier.
“The Yellow Jackets are a fantastic squadron,” he continued. “Tabb, you’ve had a fantastic command tour. Cmdr. DeMonte, I’m excited to see you take on the duty of command. I know you’re prepared for the challenges ahead.”
Cmdr. Stringer, who led VAQ-138 through the transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler and through the squadron’s first expeditionary deployment to Iraq and Kuwait, had high praise for the men and women who make up the Yellow Jackets.
“It takes a whole team to keep the aircraft flying,” he said. “Our job is to take the fight to the enemy, accomplish our mission and come home safely.
“You flew 210 days straight (while in Iraq),” Stringer continued. “You flew 923 combat missions and spent more than 2,000 hours protecting U.S. soldiers. You truly live up to our motto — ‘Nothing less than the best.’”
Cmdr. DeMonte, who served as the squadron’s executive officer through Stringer’s command, offered a rousing speech as his first official act as squadron leader.
“I challenge everyone in this command to act like we are going into combat tomorrow,” he said. “We will succeed in our mission because it’s our job. We are the leading edge of electronic attack. We live to fly.”
He hailed the men and women of VAQ-138, from the squadron’s petty officers and seamen to the junior officers and officers, calling them the foundation on which the Yellow Jackets’ success was built and the key to its future success.
“We are a team,” DeMonte said. “We deploy as a team, we fight as a team and we succeed or fail as a team.”