Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Jones assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 130 is greeted by his family upon returning home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. Dec. 30, 2016. Photo by Michael Watkins/Whidbey News-Times

VAQ-130 returns home for the New Year

The “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-130 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island after completing a seven-month deployment to support Operation Inherent Resolve Dec. 30.

VAQ 130’s pilots and electronic warfare officers flew the squadron’s EA-18G Growlers back to NAS Whidbey Island from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), while support and maintenance personnel reunited with their families later via airlift.

“I am just as proud of the families back in Whidbey as I am of the Zapper Sailors,” said Cmdr. Brendan Stickles, VAQ-130’s commanding officer. “Our squadron was gone from home nine months during the last year. We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of all the Zapper friends and families.”

The Zappers are attached to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 commanded by Capt. Marc Miguez. VAQ-130 left NAS Whidbey Island May 2016, where they began flight operations off the coast of Virginia and continued east across the Atlantic Ocean to the Azores.

In transit to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, or AOR, the Zappers conducted flight operations off the coast of Spain, France, and Italy. Following, the Zappers, as part of the CVW-3 and CVN-69 team, entered the 5th Fleet AOR through the Suez Canal as CVN-69 relieved the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The Zappers supported joint and coalition forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria for approximately seven months where they flew 226 combat sorties and executed 1,596 combat flight hours

During the deployment, VAQ-130 also employed and honed skills to maintain, fly, and operate the Navy’s premiere electronic attack platform with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 and their joint partners.

The Zappers, along with CSG-10, then returned to the Mediterranean and continued to support Operation Inherent Resolve from the 6th Fleet AOR.

Lt. Chris Ihlan and his girlfriend Naomi Fosket are reunited at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Dec. 30, 2016, after a six-month deployment overseas, just in time to celebrate New Years Eve. Photo by Michael Watkins/Whidbey News-Times