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VAQ-132 | Scorpions

In terms of continuous history, the “Scorpions” of VAQ-132 are the second oldest squadron in the current VAQ community. Their combat honors include the Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.


The VAQ-132 story begins on 1 November 1955 with the establishment of Heavy Attack Squadron-TWO (VAH-2) at NAS North Island, California. “Heavy-Two” was the first of its kind on the west coast and formed to fly the new carrier-based Douglas A3D Skywarrior bomber.


The squadron soon moved to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and, in July 1957, started the first A3D deployment to the Western Pacific with its Detachment “N” sailing as a part of CVG-5 in the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31). Soon calling itself the “Rampant Raiders”, VAH-2 continued to send Skywarriors into the Pacific region on the carriers Ticonderoga (CVA-14), Coral Sea (CVA-43)and Ranger (CVA-61). In 1964 the squadron dropped the first bombs from the A-3B (the A3D-2’s post-1962 designation) in combat; a role that only lasted for a few years before the tanking mission became dominant.


On 1 November 1968 VAH-2 was redesignated Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-132 (VAQ-132) and moved to NAS Alameda, California where they undertook the electronic countermeasures role using EKA-3Bs alongside their KA-3Bs. They also adopted the “Scorpions” nickname at the same time.


Now deploying as a five aircraft squadron (typically three EKA-3Bs and a pair of KA-3Bs) VAQ-132 made two combat deployments to South East Asia with CVW-9, flying off of Enterprise (CVAN-65, in 1969) and America (CVA-66, in 1970).
Their time home in Alameda wasn’t long as in the summer of 1971 they were transferred to Whidbey Island to become the first fleet squadron flying the electrifying new Grumman EA-6B Prowler.


The “Scorpions” graduated from the RAG and began their first deployment with four new “Standard” EA-6Bs as a part of CVW-8 in America in June 1972.  What had originally been planned to be a trip to the Mediterranean ended up being directed instead to Vietnam to support Operation Linebacker. They flew the first EA-6B combat mission on 12 July, 1972 in support of a strike off the USS Saratoga (CVA-60). The squadron logged 254 combat sorties before their final “green ink” mission on 27 January 1973.
The “Scorps”, having introduced the Prowler into combat, lead the way for the entire community and returned home to Whidbey in March 1973.


The squadron’s next deployment would be to the Med in 1974 with the EXCAP version; now in Independence (CV-62) and CVW-7.  Among the other “firsts” recorded by the unit was assumption of command by the first Naval Flight Officer (NFO) of any VAQ squadron; Commander Vernon Shirley taking over in July 1974.  Over the next 14 years the “Scorpions” would make eight more peacetime deployments, all but one to the Med.  Conversion to Improved Capability (ICAP) Prowlers occurred in 1978 as the squadron kept abreast of the threat with the newest version of EA-6B.


The period from 1977 through ’79 involved two trips to the Western Pacific regions as part of the Constellation/CVW-9 team.  The second deployment included a spell in the Indian Ocean.  (IO)


In 1979 they returned to CVW-7 and would make their next four extended deployments with that wing, all in the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).   A 1986 trip to the Med and followed with the Forrestal (CV-59)/CVW-6 team; a journey they repeated in 1988 along with another swing into the Indian Ocean.  A year later they were transferred to CVW-17, with which they’d remain for the next 18 years.


In 1989 the “Scorpions” transitioned to the Improved Capability II (ICAP-II) Prowler, with its improved receiver system and capability to deliver the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).


The 1990-91 deployment in Saratoga was dominated by participation in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, during which VAQ-132 flew 75 combat sorties from the Red Sea and delivered 17 HARM missiles.


Two subsequent deployments in Saratoga were followed by cruises in Enterprise (CVN-65), Eisenhower again, USS George Washington (CVN-74) and USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67); ALL supporting operations within Central Command, participating in Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.


In January 2005 the Scorpions traveled to Iwakuni, Japan for a four-month expeditionary deployment in support of Marine Aircraft Group-TWELVE.  This was followed up by a second expeditionary deployment in 2008 to the former MiG-base at Al Asad, Iraq, where the “Scorps” again conducted combat missions as part of Iraqi Freedom.


Their final significant time at sea with the EA-6B occurred in April-May 2008 when they transited the tip of South America as part of the transfer of the Washington to the Pacific Fleet.


VAQ-132 began transition to the new Boeing EA-18G Growler in February 2009, becoming the first fleet squadron to fly that aircraft. Their legacy includes flying the EA-6B almost four decades in peace and combat without losing a single Prowler.

 

EA-6B Deployments

Jun 72-Mar 73

America

CVW-8

Vietnam

 

Jul 74-Jan 75

Independence

CVW-7

Med

 

Oct 75-May 76

Independence

CVW-7

Med

 

Apr-Nov 77

Constellation

CVW-9

WPAC

 

Sep 78-May 79

Constellation

CVW-9

WPAC/IO

 

Apr-Dec 80

Eisenhower

CVW-7

IO

 

Jan-Jul 82

Eisenhower

CVW-7

Med

 

Apr-Nov 83

Eisenhower

CVW-7

Med

 

Oct 84-May 85

Eisenhower

CVW-7

Med

 

May-Dec 86

Forrestal

CVW-7

Med

Apr-Oct 88

Forrestal

CVW-6

Med/IO

Aug 90-Mar 91

Saratoga

CVW-17

Med/RS// ODS

Jun-Nov 92

Saratoga

CVW-17

Med

Jan-Jun 94

Saratoga

CVW-17

Med

Jun-Dec 96

Enterprise

CVW-17

Med/RS/PG

Jun-Dec 98

Eisenhower

CVW-17

Med/RS/PG

Jun-Dec 2000

G. Washington

CVW-17

Med/RS/PG

Jun-Dec 02

G. Washington

CVW-17

Med/RS/PG

Jun-Dec 04

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-17

Med/RS/IO

Jan-Apr 05

Iwakuni Japan

MAG-12

Expeditionary

Mar-Oct 07

Al Asad, Iraq

….

Expeditionary

Apr, May 08

G. Washington

CVW-17

Cape Horn

 

PROWLER COMMANDING OFFICERS: VAQ-132

CDR Don R. Matthews

July 1971

CDR Everett “Rosy” Rollins

July 1972

CDR Lowell P. Stone

July 1973

CDR Vernon Shirley

July 1974

CDR Denis J. Taft

July 1975

CDR James Stokoe

Sept 1976

CDR John F. Smith

Dec 1977

CDR Doug W. Cook

Feb 1979

CDR Donald R. Bradbury

Jun 1980

CDR David L. McConagha

Aug 1981

CDR Rob S. Weber

Dec 1982

CDR Tom S. Robinson

Jun 1984

CDR W. K. “Skip” Fincher

Dec 1985

CDR Paul “Poodle” O’Dell

Jun 1987

CDR Dan “Jaws” Joslin

Nov 1988

CDR Tom “TP” Lane

May 1990

CDR Rick Martin

Nov 1991

CDR Lee Holbrook

May 1993

CDR Gary Hicks

Nov 1994

CDR Steve “Nasty” Gnassi

Jan 1996

CDR Randy Laws

May 1997

CDR Dave “Woody” Woods

Aug 1998

CDR C. Ladd Wheeler

Jun 2000

CDR Mike McNellis

Mar 2001

CDR Bill Reavey

June 2002

CDR Ron Reis

Aug 2003

CDR Randy Pierson

Oct 2004

CDR Tim Kuehhas

Feb 2006

CDR Jeffrey Graf

Apr 2007

CDR Matt Vandersluis

May 2008

CDR Scott Bunnay

Apr 2009

 

Major Awards:
Arthur Radford Award            1987, 1998, 2004

Battle “E”:       1985/86, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004          All under the Atlantic Fleet