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VAQ-133 | Wizards

VAQ-133 (1) 1969-1992

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-133 was established at NAS Alameda, CA on 4 March, 1969 from VAQ-130 det 61, which flew Douglas EKA-3B and KA-3B Skywarriors as part of CVW-2.  The new unit, which adopted the title “Golden Zappers”, made two combat deployments to South East Asia in the carriers Ranger (CVA-61) and Constellation (CVA-64), with which they provided jamming support for the November, 1970 Son Tay raid, among other actions.

 

The squadron turned over its “Whales” in 1972 and moved to NAS Whidbey Island, WA, becoming the fourth Alameda-based unit to enter VAQ-129 for transition to EA-6B Prowlers. During training the squadron adopted the nickname “Wizards”, which would be their ever-lasting title.

 

Although initially equipped with Standard-version Prowlers the “Wizards” soon took delivery of new Expanded Capability (EXCAP) aircraft and became the first unit to deploy with this variant, joining the USS America/CVW-8 team for what would be the first EA-6B deployment to the Mediterranean.

 

The squadron followed with three more Med cruises, but now as part of CVW-1 onboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67).  In 1979 they transferred to the USS Forrestal (CV-59) and back to the now familiar Med along with CVW-17.

 

In 1981 the Wizards moved again, joining CVW-11, which deployed in USS America (CV-66) for the Atlantic and Indian Ocean.  A year later, in 1982, they made their first cruise to the Western Pacific, still as a member of CVW-11 but now onboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65).  The 1984 WestPac, still with Enterprise/CVW-11, would be the last EXCAP deployment in the Navy as the Wizards closed the books on that Prowler version.

 

Transitioning to the Improved Capabilities II (ICAP II) version, the Wizards made one more deployment with Enterprise before moving to the USS Coral Sea (CV-43), now as a member of CVW-13.  Following two trips to the Med, the squadron survived, temporarily, the decommissioning of its ship and disestablishment of its Air Wing by being moved to CVW-6 and the USS Forrestal (CV-59), where they replaced VAQ-142. 

 

The “Wizards’” relief was short lived as they were selected for extinction as part of the Clinton-era “Peace Dividend” after only one deployment in the “FID”.  The squadron was disestablished at Whidbey Island on 24 April 1992.

 

Major Deployments

 

 

 

Jan to Aug 1974

America

CVW-8

Med

Jun 1975 to Jan 1976

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-1

Med

Jan to Aug 1977

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-1

Med

Jun 1978 to Feb 1979

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-1

Med

Nov 1979 to May 1980

Forrestal

CVW-17

Med

Apr 1981 to Jan 1982

America

CVW-11

IO

Apr to Dec 1984

Enterprise

CVW-11

WPAC

Jan to Aug 1986

Enterprise

CVW-11

WP/IO

Sep 1987 to Mar 1988

Coral Sea

CVW-13

Med

May 1989 to Sep 1989

Coral Sea

CVW-13

Med

May to Dec 1991

Forrestal

CVW-6

Med

 

 

 

 

 

Commanding Officers

CDR H.F. Burrows

Mar 1971

CDR G.A. Hamlin

Feb 1973

CDR J.R. Wheeler

Feb 1974

CDR N.B. “Crash” Nash

Feb 1975

CDR P.V. Hendricks

May 1976

CDR J.R. ‘Bob” Pettyjohn

May 1977

CDR L.I. “Bear” Astor

Jul 1978

CDR R.V. LaMay

Oct 1979

CDR R.F. “Rip” Purdy

Jan 1981

CDR Will Gray

Apr 1982

CDR Bill Birkmaier

Oct 1983

CDR. W.B. Bennett

Apr 1985

CDR Renny Ide

Oct 1986

CDR Tom “Scarbelly” Stark

Feb 1988

CDR G.S. “SmilyMowrey

Jun 1989

CDR Mike “Elbow” Bender

Nov 1990

 

VAQ-133 (2)            1996-

Changing priorities in the U.S. Department of Defense in the mid-1990s led to the formation of five Navy EA-6B squadrons (one established; four new) specifically to carry out the Expeditionary (land-based) EW mission for the Joint Forces.  While the “Garudas” of VAQ-134 were reconfigured from carrier to expeditionary mission in 1995, the first “new” squadron would be VAQ-133, which returned a historical designation and nickname to Whidbey, being established on 1 April 1996.

 

The “Wizards” made their first deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in January 1997 where they spelled a Marine Prowler squadron as part of that service’s Unit Deployment Program (UDP).  This started the cycle of land-based excursions around the world as a Joint Force asset in support of the nation’s Combat Commanders.

 

Between mid-1998 and early 2003 VAQ-133 made five deployments to Incirlik Turkey or Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia, participating in combat operations near and over Iraq as part of Operations Northern and Southern Watch.

 

Another visit to Japan came in mid to late 2003 and, from August 2004 the squadron started a series of deployments to Bagram, Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.  In 2009 VAQ-133 deployed to Al Asad, Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, continuing its superlative Electronic Attack work in a highly complex electromagnetic magnetic environment.

 

By 2011 the arrival of the new Boeing EA-18G Growler to the expeditionary force led to VAQ-133 changing its role to carrier-based, with its next deployment being as a part of Carrier Air Wing-NINE (CVW-9) in the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) for a trip to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.  A second cruise followed with the same team, the Wizards returning to Whidbey Island for transition to the EA-18G in May 2013.

 

 

VAQ-133 Deployments 1997-2013

Jan to Mar 1997

Iwakuni, JA

UDP

 

Jul to Dec 1998

Incirlik, TU

ONW

 

Mar 1999

Prince Sultan AB SA

OSW

 

Jan to May 2001

Incirlik, TU

ONW

 

Nov 2001 to Feb 2002

PSAB

OSW

 

Sep 2002 to Jan 2003

Incirlik

ONW

 

Jul to Oct 2003

Iwakuni

UDP

 

Aug 2004 to Jan 2005

Bagram, Afghanistan

OEF

 

Jan to July 2006

Bagram

OEF

 

Jul 2007 to Jan 2008

Bagram

OEF

 

Sep 2008 to Mar 2009

Bagram

OEF

 

Dec 2009 to Jun 2010

Al Asad, Iraq

OIF

 

Jul 2011 to Mar 2012

John C. Stennis

WP/IO

CVW-9

Aug 2012 to May 2013

John C. Stennis

WP/IO

CVW-9

 

UDP: Unit Deployment Program

ONW: Operation Northern Watch

OSW; Operation Southern Watch

OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom

OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom

WP/IO: Western Pacific/Indian Ocean

 

Commanding Officers

CDR Gary Hicks

April 1996

CDR Ken Smolana

Feb 1997

CDR J.E. Russell

May 1998

CDR Bill Cavitt

Sept 1999

CDR E.T. Allen

Sept 2000

CDR Bob “Pappy” Papadakis

Dec 2001

CDR Greg “Okie” Thomas

Mar 2003

CDR C.M. “Hoot” Gibson

Jun 2004

CDR Chuck Minter

Sep 2005

CDR John “Tater” Springett

Dec 2006

CDR J.M. Ward

Mar 2008

CDR C.F. Mays

May 2009

 

NOTE:   As per CNO instruction (and managed by the Navy History Office), there have been two squadrons designated VAQ-133. While these two units share the same title and nickname, they are, in terms of lineage, two distinct organizations for historical purposes.