The “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island just in time to celebrate the New Year with family and friends.
The squadron returned Friday, Dec. 30, after completing a seven-month deployment to support Operation Inherent Resolve, according to a Navy press release.
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, while support and maintenance personnel reunited with their families Friday afternoon via airlift from Norfolk, Va.
“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 3 commanded by Capt. Marc Miguez. VAQ-130 left NAS Whidbey Island in May of 2016 and 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, the Zappers conducted flight operations off the coast of Spain, France and Italy. Afterward, the Zappers, as part of the Carrier Air Wing 3 and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower team, entered the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility through the Suez Canal as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower 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. They flew 226 combat sorties and executed 1,596 combat flight hours during those months.
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 10 and their joint partners.
The Zappers, along with Carrier Strike Group 10, then returned to the Mediterranean and continued to support Operation Inherent Resolve from the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility. The ship and air wing conducted joint flight operations with the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle, which demonstrated the continued cooperation between the two countries and their steadfast resolve in the fight against ISIL.