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VAQ-131 LANCERS

Of all VAQ squadrons, the “Lancers” hold the longest lineage in terms of continuous service, now approaching 70 years of duty to the nation.


The squadron has served in both the Regular and Reserve Navy; in three different major communities (Patrol, Heavy Attack and Electronic Warfare) and deployed on at least 15 different aircraft carriers.


The squadron’s roots go back to Pennsylvania, where they were originally reserve patrol squadron VP-931 at NAS Willow Grove. On 9 September 1950 the unit was called up as part of the massive mobilization for the Korean War, VP-931 being ordered to report to NAS Whidbey Island, WA for active duty flying Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateers initially and then LockheedP2V-2 Neptunes.


Operations were conducted out of the Aleutians with the mighty Neptune, many of which involved close surveillance of the Soviet mainland.


As the Korean War continued, VP-931 became one of several reserve units that were converted to full regular Navy status, in this case being redesignated VP-29 on 4 Feb 1953.  Deployments to Japan and Aleutians continued as the squadron plied its trade throughout the Pacific region.


The face of Naval Aviation was changing, however, and the carrier forces were growing the new Heavy Attack (VAH) community with the remarkable new Douglas A3D Skywarrior as its primary aircraft.  VP-29 was redesignated as HATRON-FOUR (VAH-4) on 3 July 1956 and immediately started training for the carrier-based nuclear strike role.


Now calling themselves the “Four-Runners”, VAH-4 made its first Skywarrior deployment in December 1958 by placing a detachment of three aircraft on the USS Hancock (CVA-19). Initially deployed in the nuclear deterrent role the squadron also practiced delivery of conventional ordnance as well as tanking.


The start of the Vietnam War immediately showed the value of the A-3 aircraft, initially as a conventional bomber and quickly for its tanker role.


Never deploying as a complete squadron, VAH-4 supplied 36 separate detachments in ten different carriers with the A-3B and, from May 1967, KA-3B tanker. These ships ranged from the fleet’s smallest, the converted Essex-class types to the biggest, the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65).  While the unit did drop ordnance in South East Asia through 1966 the A-3’s tanker role soon took precedence, quickly becoming a critical factor in the conduct of the war.


As the war continued the Navy realized that the traditional Heavy Attack role was no longer valid and that it needed to emphasize both tanking as well as electronic warfare.  On 1 February the service created the first Tactical Electronic Warfare (VAQ) squadron with the goal to form six squadrons at NAS Alameda, CA to conduct jamming as well as tanking with the newly modified EKA-3B version of the “Whale”. 


On 1 Oct 1968 VAH-4 was redesignated VAQ-131 as part of that plan, with orders to move to California to join the growing new community.


The new squadron quickly took up five aircraft, three EKA-3Bs and two KA-3Bs. Now calling themselves the “Holly Green”, based on their radio callsign, the unit would make two deployments with their “Whales”, one to Vietnam in Kitty Hawk with CVW-11, the other to the Mediterranean as part of the Kennedy/CVW-1 team.


With two cruises under their belt, VAQ-131 moved again in May 1971, back to Whidbey Island, where they became the second squadron to transition to the exciting new Grumman EA-6B Prowler.


Entering the RAG, VAQ-129, the squadron quickly decided to change their name and chose the title “Lancers” as well as a new logo.  They exited training early in 1972 and quickly prepared to deploy to Vietnam as part of CVW-14 and Enterprise.
The squadron departed CONUS in September with four Standard EA-6Bs and soon arrived off Vietnam, where they became the second (after VAQ-132) Prowler squadron to enter combat.  Their performance during Operation Linebacker II would earn the squadron the first “Battle E” awarded in the young EA-6B community.


Returning home in the summer of 1973, the “Lancers” moved to CVW-9 and Constellation (CVA-64) for their next deployment. Transition to the Expanded Capability (EXCAP) Prowler came in 1975, followed by deployments to the Mediterranean (with Saratoga/CVW-3) and Western Pacific. (Kitty Hawk/CVW-11).


Improved Capability (ICAP) Prowlers arrived in late 1978 and would remain the squadron’s version for the next eight years. Staying with Air Wing-ELEVEN, they deployed in America (CV-66) to the Indian Ocean in 1979.  In 1980/81 the “Lancers” would win the first ever Arthur W. Radford Award for EW Excellence.


In 1980 the “Lancers” joined their fifth Air Wing in eight years, becoming a member of CVW-6 onboard the Independence (CV-62).  VAQ-131 would make four deployments with this pairing, including a 1983-1984 cruise which featured combat operations as part of Operation Urgent Fury, the occupation of Grenada as well as the 4 December 1983 raid into Lebanon.


Converting to ICAP II in 1985, the “Lancers” moved to CVW-2, which they would stay with for the remainder of their time in Prowlers.
Multiple deployments in Ranger (CV-61) followed, several of which were during the “Surge” period where the ship and air wing was required to maintain high readiness levels at all times and deploy on short notice.


In December 1990 VAQ-131 accompanied Ranger into the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as they were center stage for the start of Operation Desert Storm. Over the six week campaign to liberate Kuwait.  The “Lancers” flew 330 hours in 228 sorties during the war while also delivering 24 HARMs.


The squadron would make one more deployment in Ranger; that gallant ship’s last, in 1992-93.  They would move with CVW-2 to Constellation (CV-64), making a trip with that ship around the Horn as she moved from her SLEP in Philadelphia back to San Diego.  A WestPac would follow, and then a two-month trip to Aviano, Italy as part of Operations Deny Flight/Decisive Edge.


Another deployment followed in “Connie” (WestPac, 1997) and then another land-based period, this time in sunny Saudi Arabia (1998) to fly combat as part of Operation Southern Watch.  Their 1999 WestPac started with two months in Iwakuni, Japan where they covered Pacific Command commitments ahead of their carrier.  They joined Constellation and CVW-2 in June and were home in time for Christmas.


The 2002 deployment in “Connie” featured Operation Iraqi Freedom with VAQ-131 participating in strikes deep into Iraq on the opening night. They returned to Whidbey in June 2003 and moved with their wing to the Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). Their first deployment on that ship would begin in October 2004.  This sojourn would involve relief of Indonesia after that country suffered a massive tsunami that devastated the world’s largest Muslim country. The U.S. response, called Operation Unified Assistance, provided unprecedented amounts of humanitarian supplies to the devastated parts of Indonesia.


Four more major deployments would follow in the Lincoln, all to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, providing support for the 7th an 5th Fleets as part of the Global War on Terror.


VAQ-131 began transition to the EA-18G Growler in May 2014.         

VAQ-131 EA-6B MAJOR DEPLOYMENTS

Sep 72-Jun ‘73

Enterprise

CVW-14

VIETNAM

Linebacker II

Jun-Dec ‘74

Constellation

CVW-9

WPAC/IO

 

Jan-Jul ‘76

Saratoga

CVW-3

Med

 

Oct ’77-May ‘78

Kitty Hawk

CVW-11

WPAC

 

Mar-Sep ‘79

America

CVW-11

MED

 

Nov ’80-Jun-‘81

Independence

CVW-6

Med/IO

 

Jun-Dec ‘82

Independence

CVW-6

Med

 

Oct ’83-Apr ‘84

Independence

CVW-6

Carib/Med

Grenada, Lebanon

Oct ’84-Feb ‘85

Independence

CVW-6

Med/IO

 

Oct, Nov ‘87

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC surge

 

Jan-Mar ‘87

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC Surge

 

Jul-Dec ‘87

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC Surge

 

Feb-Sep ‘89

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC/I0

 

Dec ’90-Jun ‘91

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC/IO 

Desert Storm

Aug ’92-Jan ‘93

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

May-Jul ‘93

Constellation

CVW-2

Horn

 

Nov ’94-May ‘95

Constellation

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

Nov, Dec ‘96

…..

31st FW

Aviano Italy

Expeditionary

Apr-Oct ‘97

Constellation

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

Jun-Aug ‘98

…..

4404th AEW

Prince Sultan, SA

Expeditionary

Jun ‘99

…..

MAG-12

Iwakuni JA

Proceeded carrier

Jun-Dec ‘99

Constellation

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

Mar-Sep 2001

Constellation

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

Nov ’02-Jun ‘03

Constellation

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

Iraqi Freedom

Oct ’04-Mar ‘05

Lincoln

CVW-2

WPAC

Unified Assistance

Feb-Aug ‘06

Lincoln

CVW-2

WPAC

 

Mar-Oct ‘08

Lincoln

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

 

Sep ’10-Mar ‘11

Lincoln

CVW-2

WPAC/IO

Enduring Freedom

Dec ’11-Aug ‘12

Lincoln

CVW-2

World

Enduring Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commanding Officers

CDR Jim Harmon

May 1971

CDR Lucio “Johnny D” Diloretto

Oct 1972

CDR Robert Ulysses Marcus

Oct 1973

CDR Ned B. Leisy

Jan 1975

CDR Stu Langdon

Apr 1976

CDR Carl Bruntlet

Jun 1977

CDR Hugh Helms

Jul 1978

CDR KEN Walden

Jul 1979

CDR H.G. “GunderCraeger

Oct 1980

CDR R.G. “Dick” Simms

Jan 1982

CDR Jim Kennedy

Apr 1983

CDR Vic Dodds

May 1984

CDR Bill Headridge

Jan 1986

CDR Bill Young

May 1987

CDR Bob McNamara

Nov 1988

CDR Pat “Ogre” O’Neal

May 1990

CDR Bob Maslowsky

Nov 1991

CDR J. “Bubba” Wallace

Oct 1992

CDR Steve Hoefel

Mar 1994

CDR Carlos Sotomayor

Jul 1995

CDR Danny “Mad Dog” Mason

Oct 1996

CDR Terry Kraft

Feb 1998

CDR Rich “Dog” Dawe

May 1999

CDR Randy Duhrkopf

Sep 2000

CDR Jay Locklear

Nov 2001

CDR “Germ” Gergotelis

Feb 2003

CDR Mike Coury

Mar 2004

CDR Ted Williams

May 2005

CDR W.D. Park

Aug 2006

CDR B.T. Jensen

Nov 2007

CDR L.E. Steinbaugh

Feb 2009

CDR T.R. “Goat” Huerter

May 2010

 

BATTLE “E”: 1971/72, 1979/80, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007. 


Arthur Radford Award: 1980/81, 2006.

Carriers VAH-4/VAQ-131 deployed in with A-3s: Ticonderoga (CVA-14), Lexington (CVA-16), Hancock (CVA-19), Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), Oriskany (CVA-34), Shangri-La (CVA-38), Independence (CVA-62), Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), Enterprise (CVAN-65), John F. Kennedy (CVA-67).


Carriers VAQ-131 deployed in with the EA-6B: Saratoga (CV-60), Ranger (CV-61), Independence (CV-62), Kitty Hawk (CV-63), Constellation (CVA/CV-64), Enterprise (CVAN-65), America (CV-66), Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

 

RJM 6/18