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‘Star Warriors’ Whidbey bound

The Navy is redeploying a reserve EA-6B Prowler squadron to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, which will bring an additional four or five aircraft to the skies over Oak Harbor.

The Navy is initiating an environmental assessment survey, thereby starting the process to bring the Star Warriors squadron, VAQ-209, to Whidbey within the next 18 months. The Star Warriors are currently based at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Oak Harbor City Councilwoman Beth Munns, a former Navy League president and wife of a former base commander, said the move is good news for the Navy base, but it won’t have much of an impact on the community as it’s a reserve squadron.

“It will congregate all the Prowler squadrons in one place,” Munns said. “All the maintenance is here, all the experts are here. It makes a lot of sense.”

Munns said city officials who visited the Pentagon this year were aware the move was a possibility and let the Navy know they were supportive of the move.

Yet she acknowledges that the reservists in the squadron may not be pleased that they will have to commute all the way across the country. Most of the members of the squadron, which includes 30 officers and 190 enlisted personnel, are reservists and likely have jobs in the Washington, D.C., area.

“Maybe they will be able to change squadrons,” she suggested.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen hailed the move in a press release last Friday.

“The Navy’s decision to bring the Star Warriors to Whidbey Island is one more sign of the importance of Whidbey Island to the nation’s national security strategy,” Larsen said.

“The Star Warriors,” he added, “have a long and distinguished history, most recently serving our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. They will join a professional aviation community that works hard every day to provide security to our nation.”

A spokesman at Larsen’s office indicated that the Star Warriors will likely transition to the new EA-18G Growlers along with the rest of squadrons.

Larsen said he’s also keeping pressure on Navy officials to make sure they follow through with their commitment to also bring the P-8A Poseidons to Whidbey Island.

“Naval Air Station Whidbey Island will remain an important asset both locally and for our nation long into the future,” he said.

 

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