w

Growler squadron, Whidbey business owner partner to light up hangar

The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 hung a large sign to mark the Growler squadron’s 50th anniversary.

Something new is occupying the hangar of Electronic Attack Squadron 136.

The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 recently hung a large neon sign during an early celebration of the Growler squadron’s 50th anniversary.

The sign is six feet across but the accompanying painted lettering stretches even further.

The project was a collaboration between community members, members of the squadron and Tim Leonard, who owns the fabrication business Heavy Metal Works. Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Salcido of VAQ-136 spearheaded most of the creation of the sign.

Leonard owns an arcade in Langley, The Machine Shop, where he and Salcido met. Leonard said it was unusual to have people from North Whidbey interested in his sign-making business.

The two men talked about working on a sign for the squadron together.

“I think Ryan and I just hit it off,” Leonard said.

Heavy Metal Works is a tech bridge company, meaning it helps service members to gain valuable skills as they transition out of the military.

“It feels good to give back to those who have given so much,” Leonard said.

The sign’s construction began in January and involved a neon element in the shape of a sword, VAQ-136’s insignia.

“The sword represents kinetic power while the lightning, or fire, around the blade represents our core mission of non-kinetic power,” Salcido said.

Although not in neon, the sign also has a small Japanese kanji meaning “spirit of attack,” a nod to the symbol brandished by every VAQ-136 EA-6B and a representation of the command’s heritage as the U.S. Navy’s first and only permanently forward deployed EA-6B squadron for 32 years.

There is also a maroon stripe with Grumman planes inside it, representing VAQ-136’s heritage as a EA-6B platform.

Main Street Collision and Backwood Projects, two businesses in Oak Harbor, also helped with the painting of the sign and the accompanying letters that read “VAQ-136.”

Salcido brought the idea of the project to former VAQ-136 Commander Jan Paul two years ago.

“It’s a project born of squadron morale,” Paul said.

In September, the finished sign was finally hung in the squadron’s hangar bay.

VAQ-136 was established in 1973. Salcido said the squadron will be deployed in 2021 and 2022, which is why the sign had to be completed before VAQ-136’s 50th anniversary.

“You never want to wait till the last minute to celebrate anything,” Salcido said.

VAQ-136 will be the first to deploy with the F-35 and MV-22 Osprey, he added.

Photo provided
Langley business owner Tim Leonard stands below the growler squadron’s completed sign, which includes a sword made of neon. He helped Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Salcido of VAQ-136 to build the sign.

Photo provided Langley business owner Tim Leonard stands below the growler squadron’s completed sign, which includes a sword made of neon. He helped Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Salcido of VAQ-136 to build the sign.

More in Crosswind

t
Curious about World War I memorial, woman researches the names set in stone

A WWI memorial in front of the Island County courthouse honors eight men who died in service.

t
World War II vet will be featured in Navy League’s virtual Veterans Day event

A World War II from Freeland reflects on memories from his time in service.

w
Growler squadron, Whidbey business owner partner to light up hangar

The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 hung a large sign to mark the Growler squadron’s 50th anniversary.

Golden Swordsmen reach halfway point in deployment

The Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron Four Seven, based at Naval Air… Continue reading

Lt. Nick Woods, attached to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, controls a Mark II Talon remotely operated vehicle (ROV) during a Certification Exercise (CERTEX) on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., July 16. Elements of EODMU-1 and EODMU-5 qualified as ready for future operational deployments during the CERTEX, which centered on integrating the two units’ Sailors with a goal of building a cohesiveness that will help them counter undersea threats and contribute to winning the high-end fight once deployed in support of Navy and geographic combatant command mission priorities. U.S. Navy EOD is the world’s premier combat force for eliminating explosive threats so the Fleet and nation can fight and win wherever, whenever and however it chooses. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Cuenca/Released
Ordnance training held off Whidbey

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One from San Diego and… Continue reading

Whidbey SAR conducts life-saving missions

A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island… Continue reading

VA surgical care better than or equal to non-VA hospitals, according to new study

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs today announced that VA hospitals outperform or… Continue reading

New tenant command at NAS Whidbey
New tenant command at NAS Whidbey

The Navy stood up its newest tenant command, Tactical Operations Control Squadron,… Continue reading

Patriot Guard Riders and Wallin Funeral Homes Director Kelly Davidson were the Pallbearers for Roy Derrick’s funeral. Photo by Brandon Taylor
Navy veteran without family receives funeral with honors

Roy Derrick was not alone when he was laid to rest on… Continue reading

Cascade Falcon XXIV held at Camp Casey
Cascade Falcon XXIV held at Camp Casey

Civil Air Patrol members from around Washington state and beyond arrived at… Continue reading

VAQ-130 holds change of command
VAQ-130 holds change of command

The “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130 held a change of command… Continue reading

New Leaf employee helps keep base looking good