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VAQ-136 | Gauntlets

 

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 136 (VAQ-136) was established at NAS Whidbey Island WA on 6 April 1973 as the fleet’s fifth EA-6B Prowler unit, WA and the first that did not originally fly EKA-3B Skywarriors.   The new squadron adopted the nickname “Gauntlets” and were assigned the radio callsign “Iron Claw”, which became practically synonymous for the unit’s name over time.

The “Gauntlets” initially deployed in Kitty Hawk (CV-63) as a member of Carrier Air Wing-ELEVEN (CVW-11) with four Standard aircraft in November 1973 and soon claimed the distinction as the first EA-6B squadron to operate in the Indian Ocean. It’s After making two major deployments with Kitty Hawk the squadron joined the Independence/ CVW-7 team and visited the Med in 1977, which would also be the final deployment for the EA-6B Standard model.

Transitioning to the ICAP Prowler, the “Gauntlets” moved to CVW-3 for another trip to the Med, this time onboard Saratoga (CVA-60) in 1978-79.

1980 featured the squadron’s permanent move overseas to join CVW-5 at NAF Atsugi, Japan, where it became the only Forward Deployed Prowler squadron. Over the next 31 years the “Gauntlets” would frequently deploy onboard four different carriers throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, only returning periodically to Whidbey Island to re-equip with newer versions of the Prowler or participate in training at locations like Fallon.

VAQ-136 immediately went to work in Japan and quickly adapted to the Midway’s unique operational pattern of frequent at sea periods that led to what was described by many as the closest, most efficient ship/Air Wing team in the entire U.S. Navy.

In January 1983 the squadron was temporarily assigned to CVW-1 onboard the carrier America (CV-66), joining them in the Indian Ocean for almost four months as they covered their lack of EA-6B coverage.

Returning to CVW-5 and the Midway, the squadron continued normal operations through July 1986, when they flew to Whidbey Island for ICAP II transition through November.

On 19 November 1987 VAQ-136 lost its Commanding Officer, CDR Noel Greene, along with three other aircrew as their EA-6B vanished during a night mission off of Midway.

The Midway/CVW-5 team entered the Persian Gulf in November 1990, replacing the Independence as the Navy’s primary response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Initially participating in Operation Desert Shield, the squadron was heavily involved in Desert Storm that followed, flying 207 sorties for 470 hours while firing 28 AGM-88 HARM missiles.

Midway was replaced by the carrier Independence in August 1991 and CVW-5 continued to make numerous deployments to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, several of these trips being punctuated by participation in Operation Southern Watch over Southern Iraq.

“Indy” was replaced by the Kitty Hawk as the Navy’s forward deployed carrier in 1998 and then again by the nuclear-powered George Washington (CVN-73) in 2008.  Through it all VAQ-136 and CVW-5 continued “on watch” out of Japan.

The “Gauntlets” returned to the United States for good in November 2011 to transition to the Boeing EA-18G Growler, ending over 38 distinguished years of service in the EA-6B Prowler.

Major Prowler Deploymentsoy
11/73-7/74Kitty HawkWP/IO  CVW-11
5-12/75  Kitty HawkWP CVW-11
3-10/77  Independence MedCVW-7
10/78-4/79SaratogaMedCVW-3
3/80-1/83  MidwayWP/IOCVW-5Forward Deployed
1-4/83AmericaIO CVW-1
4/83- 8/91 MidwayWP/IOCVW-5  Forward Deployed
8/91-6/98  Independence WP/IOCVW-5Forward Deployed
6/98-8/08  Kitty HawkWP/IOCVW-5Forward Deployed
8/08-11/11G.WashingtonWP/IOCVW-5Forward Deployed

Commanding Officers

CDR N.E. DavisApr 1973
CDR D.E. KentoppNov 1974
CDR D.L. Dietz Mar 1975
CDR Ken Carlsen Aug 1976
CDR E.P. “Pee Wee” ReeseDec 1977
CDR D.E. SloanMar 1979
CDR B.N. JeffersMay 1980
CDR Bill Dwinelle Aug 1981
CDR N.S. Kobylk Nov 1982
CDR Tom FordMay 1984
CDR Dana McKinney Oct 1985
CDR Noel Greene † May 1987
CDR Steve Westover Nov 1987
CDR Rick Porritt Jul 1989
CDR Rich Perkins Jan 1991
CDR Larry Stack Jun 1992
CDR ‘JJ’ Matthews  Dec 1993
CDR Tom McCool Mar 1995
CDR ‘JR’ HaleyJul 1996 
CDR ‘JR’ Mathis Oct 1997
CDR Ed MartinJan 1999
CDR Bud Bishop Mar 2000
CDR Steve Baxter May 2001
CDR Steve McInereny  Aug 2002
CDR Pat BohanNov 2003
CDR John Meier Feb 2005
CDR Rob Gamberg May 2006
CDR Joel Jungemann  Aug 2007
CDR M.J. Columbo Dec 2009
CDR M. TatschApr 2010
CDR M.A. O’Leary Jul 2011