VAQ-140 returns home after five-month deployment

The family of Ensign Gilbert Garcia runs to greet him on the evening of July 1, 2013 as he returns home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island after five months deployed with Electronic Attack Squadron 140 Patriots aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (Photo by Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Brittany Burke)
Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Tucker Alexander gets a hug and kiss from his wife Shannon on July 1, 2013 upon his return home to Oak Harbor, Wash., after a deployment aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) with Electronic Attack Squadron 140 Patriots. (Photo by Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Brittany Burke)

The Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140 “Patriots” arrived home July 1 following a five-month combat deployment aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

Since departing on deployment in February, the patriots supported Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) by flying 90 combat sorties, logging 661.2 flight hours.

The squadron of 200 personnel arrived on two airlifts today and July 1. No EA-6B Prowlers flew back into Whidbey due to VAQ-140’s transfer of jets to the U.S. Marine Corps. VAQ-140 will now transition to the new EA-18G Growler.

“We have a remarkable squadron because our Sailors care about each other, our squadron and our Navy,” said Cmdr. Joe Martinez, VAQ-140’s Commanding Officer. “The bottom line is our entire Patriot family has sacrificed to meet our nation’s calling and I am extremely proud to be a part of this team.”

The patriots have been operating at the tip of the spear for the past two years. In June 2011, the squadron embarked on USS Eisenhower in support of Operation Unified Protector in Libya. Soon thereafter, VAQ-140 went right into workups followed by a six-month combat deployment to the North Arabian Sea in support of OEF that started in June 2012.

After returning back to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for the holidays, the patriots received a short-notice schedule change and underwent a six-week maintenance period during the 2012 holidays in preparation for its most recent OEF deployment. While deployed, squadron personnel visited liberty ports in Marseille, France; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Lisbon, Portugal.

Also returning were 17 service members from the Sea Operational Detachment from Fleet Readiness Center Northwest who provide technical support to keep the jets in top condition.