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VAQ-209 STAR WARRIORS

 

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-209 (VAQ-209) was established at NAS Norfolk, VA on 1 October 1977 as a new member of Reserve Carrier Air Wing-20 (CVWR-20) flying Grumman EA-6A “Electric Intruders”.  The squadron wasted no time in asking Hollywood Director/Producer George Lucas for his permission to use the image of the “Dark Lord” Darth Vader and title “Star Warriors” for their insignia and nickname. Permission granted, the squadron has used both iconic items for their identity ever since.

            Between 1977 and 1990 VAQ-209 operated in a traditional “weekend warrior” fashion out of Norfolk, providing Electronic Warfare (EW) services for multiple exercises and their Air Wing at places like NAS Fallon Nevada or during periodic carrier detachments.  Periodic carrier qualification detachments were made as well, keeping the squadron sharp in that specific operational area.

In May 1990 the “Star Warriors” moved from Norfolk to NAF Washington, located on the east side of Andrews AFB near Camp Springs Maryland.  Transition to the ICAP II version of the EA-6B Prowler began soon after, marking it as the second of three reserve squadrons to fly the type.  The presence of a large number of former Prowler flyers in the ready room only helped speed the process.

VAQ-209’s location near the Washington Beltway quickly made it a repository for a unique blend of talent throughout its ranks with many of its officers and sailors also holding ‘day jobs’ in the local civilian and governmental complex.  Many of these men held positions that directly influenced Naval Aviation and Electronic Warfare at multiple levels. 

In 1995 the growing need for more EW presence around the world led to VAQ-209 supplying a pair of Prowlers and crew to support NATO operations as part of Operation Allied Force, where they augmented VAQ-141 with CVW-8 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN -71) for combat over the former Yugoslavia.

It didn’t stop there as the “Star Warriors” continued to deploy overseas into combat with ten total trips being made through 2014.  Time overseas was typically short (three months or less) due to federal law and limitations on length of  use of reservists, but the squadron proved to be an invaluable gap-filler between regular Navy and Marine squadrons for Operations Northern and Southern Watch, Deny Flight, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The unit’s extensive experience and unique qualities were demonstrated, time and again as their aircrew and maintenance personnel proved to be as good, or better, than fleet units they spelled.

VAQ-209’s critical need and contribution to the nation is demonstrated by the fact that, between 1977 and 2014 it made more deployments overseas to combat areas than all other Navy Reserve squadrons in Air Wings-20 and -30 PUT TOGETHER.

The “Star Warriors” moved to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington in May 2014 for EA-18G transition, ending 37 memorable years in EA-6A/B type aircraft.

Deployments; VAQ-209

May-Sep 1995

USS Theodore Roosevelt

CVW-8

ODF   Augment VAQ-141

Jun-Jul 1998

Incirlik Turkey

 

ONW

Apr-June 1999

Aviano, Italy

 

OAF

Mar-May 2000

Incirlik, Turkey

 

ONW

Apr-May 2001

Prince Sultan AB SA.

 

OSW

Aug-Sep 2002

Incirlik, Turkey

 

OSW

Apr-Jun 2005

Iwakuni, Japan

MAG-12

UDP

Jun-Sep 2006

Al Asad, Iraq

 

OIF

Jun-Sep 2010

Bagram, Afghanistan

 

OEF

Aug-Nov 2011

Bagram, Afghanistan

 

OEF

OAF: Operation Allied Force
ODF: Operation Deny Flight         (also participated in Operation Deliberate Force)
ONW: Operation Northern Watch
OSW: Operation Southern Watch
UDP: Unit Deployment Program (Marine support)
OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom
OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom

Commanding Officers, VAQ-209


CDR Joe Coughlin

Oct 1977

CDR Robert Williams

Oct 1979

CDR Stanley Jones

Oct 1981

CDR Robert Tyrell

Jun 1983

CDR Joe O’Brien

Dec 1985

CDR James Wilson

Jun 1987

CDR Bob Hathaway

Dec 1988

CDR Ed Brandt

Dec, 1989

CDR Burt Miller

June 1991

CDR Richard Wagner

Nov 1992

CDR Bill Engvall

Mar 1995

CDR Mark Crook

Aug 1996

CDR Rich Montanio

Jan 1998

CDR Clay Fearnow

May 1999

CDR “Scooter” Watson

Jun 2000

CDR Jim Leach

Dec 2001

CDR Jim Kennedy

Jun 2003

CDR Chuck Mingonet

Oct 2004

CDR John Hays

Oct 2005

CDR Jeff Zimmerman

Apr 2007

CDR Phil DuPree

Aug 2008

CDR Jeff McIrvin

Nov 2009

CDR Dana Perkins

Apr 2011

CDR Casey Casad

Aug 2012