The reserve component of the Navy turned 100 in March, the anniversary of the Congressional act that formalized its creation.
Citizen sailors have in some capacity always fought for American interests at sea. Before the Continental Congress even created a Navy, citizens in Maine commandeered a schooner and took control of a British warship. Later, privateers raided the British merchant fleet and state-formed Naval militias assisted in coastal defense.
Events in Europe at the start of the 20th century underscored the need for a federal naval reserve but it wasn’t until the outbreak of World War I the Secretary of the Navy was able to successfully campaign Congress for the money to pay for a Navy reserve.
The Navy Reserve didn’t have a presence locally until Naval Air Station Seattle ceased functioning as a home base for the area’s air reserve arm in the spring of 1970. The Naval Air Reserve moved to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island into a pre-World War II building on Ault Field, serving as the hub for Naval Air Reserve programs in the Pacific Northwest. In 1989 it moved to its current location on base and in 2006 it became a Naval Operation Support Center.
Today, there are three reserve squadrons on base: VAQ-209, the Star Warriors, fly EA-18G Growlers; VP-69’s Fighting Totems fly the P-3 Orion; and VR-61, the Islanders, is a logistical support wing with three C-40A (737) aircraft. Each of those squadrons is considered its own command. A fourth reserve unit is assigned to VAQ-129, the Electronic Attack training squadron.