'Black Raven's return to Whidbey, Kitsap, this weekend

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, this weekend will welcome home Electronic Attack Squadron 135 “Black Ravens.”

The squadron is coming home after an eight-month combat deployment aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Five EA-6B Prowlers and 20 aviators arrive at NAS Whidbey Island midday on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, 180 maintenance and support personnel will arrive at Naval Base Kitsap, stepping off USS Nimitz to waiting family and friends.

A Navy news release states the squadron left for deployment last July in support of joint and naval operations throughout Asia and the Middle East including Operation Enduring Freedom to provide electronic attack support for Carrier Air Wing 11 and ground forces.

While en route, the Black Ravens took part in multiple large force exercises near the Hawaiian Islands, honing their skills for the coming months of combat. While operating in the 7th Fleet, squadron personnel enjoyed liberty ports in Yokosuka, Japan and Singapore.

During missions over Afghanistan, VAQ-135 supported 185 sorties totaling 1, 170 flights. Over the length of deployment, the squadron completed 550 sorties and over 1,700 flight hours. In late January, VAQ-135 spent the next two months in the 7th Fleet area involved in that theater’s security cooperation plan. During this time, the Black Ravens visited Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Many volunteered in programs including a local horse riding camp created to benefit the blind.

Their most anticipated liberty now is stateside to reunite with loved ones. In addition, about 20 members of the Sea Operational Detachment from Fleet Readiness Center Northwest that provides technical support to keep the jets in top condition will return as well.

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