The Gray Wolves of Electronic Attack Squadron 142 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Tuesday after a six-month deployment. Over 100 family members and friends met the crew on the tarmac that afternoon.
“It feels amazing, unreal almost,” said Jose Kuder, petty officer third class, of coming home.
The squadron served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and conducted an array of missions, including support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to a press release.
“This particular deployment has presented a number of unique challenges to the Gray Wolf team,” said VAQ-142 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Brett Stevenson in a prepared news release.
“From enduring the daily onslaught of triple digit temperatures and humidity of the Arabian Gulf, to the fast-paced and complex environment in which our aircrews operated over Iraq and Syria, this team delivered flawlessly on a daily basis with pride and professionalism.”
The team of 142 men and women departed NAS Whidbey Island in June with five EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and went first to NAS North Island in San Diego before deployment in the Indo-Asia Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf.
The Gray Wolves flew more than 1,000 hours and executed nearly 200 combat missions in support of operations in Iraq and Syria.
VAQ-142 also provided electronic attack in support of high-priority U.S. central command tasking.
The squadron was additionally able to “experience local culture” and participate in voluntary activities ashore in Manama, Bahrain and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the release said.
Before returning to the U.S., the Gray Wolves participated in strike force operations in the Western Pacific and flew in exercises with carriers and B-1B Lancer aircraft from the U.S. Air Force.
During deployment, 16 squadron members earned enlisted air warfare specialist qualification, VAQ-142 leadership awarded sailors 16 Air Medals, two safety professionals awards, three Navy Commendation Medals, 29 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, nine Good Conduct Medals, 10 flag letters of commendation, 21 letters of commendation and seven letters of appreciation.
“This is my third deployment and this one was definitely the hottest,” said Jerome Boring, aviation structural mechanic (equipment) first class said in the statement.
“There’s a certain measure of extra pride and professionalism I see when it comes to working on the Growlers.
“There’s a desire in the squadron to take the time and get everything right and make sure our planes not only work their best, but also look their best.”