Family and friends of the Electronic Attack Squadron 131 welcomed home the “Lancers” Aug. 18 after a seven-month deployment.
“It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen,” said Clemente Armendariz, a sailor who attended the homecoming to capture photos of friends who were deployed.
“It was one of those moments that makes you want to tear up from joy.”
The 204-member squadron contributed to the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, and to significant advances in Ar Raqqa, Syria, against Islamic State control. The Lancers protected air assets from surface-to-air missile threats and restricted the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum in their support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The VAQ-131 Lancers flew 270 combat sorties, totaling 1,890 hours in support of the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleets. This was the maiden combat deployment with the EA-18G “Growler” aboard the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier.
While deployed, the Lancers transited over 50,000 miles on the aircraft carrier with port visits to Souda Bay, Crete; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, UAE; Haifa, Israel; and Portsmouth, England.
The squadron concluded its deployment by participating in the joint exercise Saxon Warrior in the United Kingdom.
“After a successful deployment and exercise, the squadron is looking forward to returning to their homes and families in Whidbey Island,” said to Lt. James Lykins, a spokesman for VAQ-131,
“It was a beautiful homecoming,” said Armendariz. “A sweet moment, and unique seeing families be reunited after being gone that long.”