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VAQ-134 GARUDAS

 

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron ONE THREE FOUR (VAQ-134) was established at NAS Alameda, California on 17 June 1969 as the seventh VAQ squadron in the Navy and the sixth under Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing THIRTEEN at Alameda.

The new unit drew its core from VAQ-130 detachment 61 with the mission of deploying five Douglas EKA and KA-3B Skywarriors (“Whales”) on Pacific Fleet carriers to provide electronic warfare and tanking support.

The young outfit’s first Commanding Officer chose the title “Garudas” for their nickname, reportedly after riding an Indonesian Garuda Airlines flight.  With a new insignia approved by CNO in November, 1969, the title held mystical connotations, being a flying deity in both Hindu and Buddhist religions and recognized as the vehicle of Vishnu. Over time the name would be recognized as one of the greatest, if least understood, in VAQ history.

Only four months after their formation, VAQ-134 would deploy to South East Asia in Ranger (CVA-61) as a member of CVW-2. Their combat cruise would be highlighted by providing jamming support for Navy operations during the attempted rescue of Prisoners of War at the Son Tay POW camp.

A second, and final, A-3 deployment was made with the same team to Vietnam from November 1970. Upon their return the Garudas were moved to NAS Whidbey Island, WA as the third Alameda-based EKA-3B unit marked for EA-6B transition.

Initially equipping with Standard Prowlers, the “Garudas” “graduated” from VAQ-129 in May 1972 and began their first EA-6B cruise on 5 January 1973 onboard Constellation as a member of CVW-9.  They were the third Prowler unit to head to Vietnam and arrived right at the end of formal hostilities. Although wing aircraft did conduct strikes into Laos, Prowlers were still restricted from crossing the beach at that time

Returning home the Garudas converted to EXCAP aircraft and departed Whidbey again in March 1975 for a trip to the Med in Forrestal (CV-59), now as a member of CVW-17. Typical of EA-6B units at that time, they switched operational command for their third Prowler deployment, this time with the Enterprise (CVN-65)/CVW-14 team.

ICAP transition occurred in 1977 and VAQ-134 would remain with that version for the next 11 years.   This period would include major deployments to the Med, Indian Ocean and Western Pacific onboard Enterprise, Nimitz (CVN-68), Constellation and Carl Vinson (CVN-70). Notable squadron members included CDR Grady Jackson, Commanding Officer from September 1977 and on his way to becoming one of the first two Prowler Admirals. The 1979-80 cruise aboard Nimitz with CVW-8 would be punctuated by being the only EA-6B unit to be part of the intended Navy role in Operation Eagle Claw, the aborted attempt to rescue American hostages held by Iran.

In 1988 VAQ-134 made the final deployment of the ICAP (I) Prowler; returning home in time for Christmas of that year. ICAP II transition followed, with the squadron making three cruises with that type, all as a part of CVW-15.

The 1993 deployment in Kitty Hawk (CV-63) with CVW-15 featured combat operations as part of Operation Southern Watch, where “Garuda” crews delivered their unit’s first AGM-88 HARM missiles on targets in Iraq.

By 1995 the nation was seeking a “Peace Dividend” and U.S. military structure was being significantly reduced as a result. Whidbey had already seen the disestablishment of VAQ-142, -133 and -137 with the Garudas appearing to be next on the chopping block as their Air Wing was scheduled for oblivion.

Instead of fading into history, however, VAQ-134 was selected as the first of the new “expeditionary” Prowler squadrons for the Navy, where they would provide land-based electronic warfare support for the Joint Forces.

On 13 May 1996 VAQ-134 began the first formal expeditionary deployment of a Navy Prowler squadron under the new Joint concept of operations.  The “Garudas” arrived at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan where they spent six months carrying out missions over Japan, Okinawa and Korea.  

For their second “land-based” deployment VAQ-134 flew to Incirlik, Turkey in December 1997, where they provided EW support for Operation Northern Watch over Iraq. As such they were the first Navy EA-6B squadron to replace Air Force EF-111A Ravens in a combat zone.

Following a short trip to Aviano AB, Italy in Feb-Mar 1999, the Garudas returned to Italy to take part in Operation Allied Force, and combat with NATO forces over the former Yugoslavia.
Subsequent expeditionary deployments would be made to Incirlik, Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The 2003 trip to Incirlik would be highlighted by participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between 2004 and 2009 the “Garudas” would make five trips to Bagram, Afghanistan, where they provided critical jamming support as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

By 2009 conversion of Navy VAQ squadrons to the new Boeing EA-18G Growler was well underway, with four of the first five squadrons taking over the expeditionary role. This allowed VAQ-134 to return to carrier duty and in December 2010 they joined Carl Vinson and CVW-17 for a deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.  

A second boat deployment would start in 2014 as a member of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and CVW-8 team. This would prove to be the final cruise for any EA-6B squadron; when the Garudas returned to Whidbey in November 2014 they were already noted as the last remaining Prowler squadron in the Navy.

VAQ-134 kept its last EA-6B through Saturday, 27 June 2015, when AJ502 (BuNo 163890)when it departed Whidbey in front of a large crowd for delivery to Pt Mugu, CA, where it would be placed on display. 

VAQ-134 DEPLOYMENTS

Jan-Oct 1973

Constellation

WestPac/Vietnam

CVW-9

Mar-Sep 1975

Forrestal

Med

CVW-17

Jul ’76-Mar’77

Enterprise

WestPac

CVW-14

Apr-Oct 1978

Enterprise

WestPac

CVW-14

Sep’79-May’80

Nimitz

Med/IO

CVW-8

Oct’81-May’82

Constellation

WestPac

CVW-9

Feb-Oct 1983

Carl Vinson

World

CVW-15

Oct’84-May’85

Carl Vinson

WestPac/IO

CVW-15

Aug’86-Feb’87

Carl Vinson

WestPac/IO

CVW-15

Jun-Dec 1988

Carl Vinson

WespPac/IO

CVW-15

Feb-Aug 1990

Carl Vinson

WestPac/IO

CVW-15

Oct-Dec 1991

Kitty Hawk

Horn

CVW-15

Nov’92-May’93

Kitty Hawk

WestPac/IO

CVW-15

May-Nov 1996

Iwakuni, Japan

Expeditionary

PACOM

Dec’97-Jun’98

Incirlik, Turkey

Expeditionary

ONW

Feb-May ‘99

Aviano, Italy

Expeditionary

OAF

Jun-Sep  1999

Incirlik

Expeditionary

ONW

Jul-Oct 2000

PSAB Saudi Arabia

Expeditionary

OSW

May-Aug 2001

Incirlik

Expeditionary

ONW

Feb-May 2002

Incirlik

Expeditionary

ONW

Jan-Apr 2003

Incirlik

Expeditionary

OIF

Apr-May 2003

PSAB

Expeditionary

OIF

Apr-Aug 2004

Bagram, Iraq

Expeditionary

OIF

Jul ’05 -Jan ‘06

Bagram

Expeditionary

OIF

Jan-Jul 2007

Bagram

Expeditionary

OIF

Mar-Sep  2008

Bagram

Expeditionary

OIF

May-Nov 2009

Bagram

Expeditionary

OIF

Nov ’10 to Jun ‘11

Carl Vinson

WestPac/IO

OEF, OND

Feb to Nov ‘14

G.H.W.Bush

Med/IO

OIF   

ONW: Operation Northern Watch                   OSW: Operation Southern Watch
OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom                           OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom
OND: Operation New Dawn                               PSAB: Prince Sultan Air Base (Al Kharj)

VAQ-134 Prowler Commanding Officers

CDR Bernard Deibert5 May 1972
CDR Daniel O’Connell1 May 1973
CDR Elton Parker Jr28 Jun 1974
CDR James Brightman13 Jun 1975
CDR James Eilertsen4 Jun 1976
CDR Grady Jackson30 Sep 1977
CDR James Bellis15 Dec 1978
CDR James Dickson9 Feb 1980
CDR Doug White18 Aug 1981
CDR Ted Meserve19 Dec 1982
CDR Tom White5 Jul 1984
CDR “Dino” Dolquist5 Dec 1985
CDR Fred Adcock21 May 1987
CDR Harry Brown Jr29 Jan 1989
CDR Jim “Mongo” Rowley1 May 1990
CDR Mike Bamford26 Jul 1991
CDR Jim Mackin11 Jan 1993
CDR JP Kindred21 Apr 1994
CDR “Chili Bob”Crumplar29 Sep 1995
CDR Mike Moran12 Jul 1996
CDR Steve ‘Chewy” Roarke10 Oct 1997
CDR Chris “Gar” Field7 Jan 1999
CDR Tom “Bigfoot” Tack25 May 2000
CDR Gregg Smith7 Sept 2001
CDR Brad “Muffy” Martin  5 Dec 2002
CDR Phil Waddingham5 Feb 2004
CDR Greg Johnston5 May 2005
CDR Randy Lynch3 Aug 2006
CDR Greg Parker1 Nov 2007
CDR David Slayton2009
CDR Jonathon Jackson2010
CDR Greg Byers2011
CDR Aron Buckles2013
CDR Christopher Jason2014

 

RJM DEC 2017