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
|4/83- 8/91||Midway||WP/IOCVW-5||Forward Deployed|
|6/98-8/08||Kitty Hawk||WP/IOCVW-5||Forward Deployed|
|CDR N.E. Davis||Apr 1973|
|CDR D.E. Kentopp||Nov 1974|
|CDR D.L. Dietz||Mar 1975|
|CDR Ken Carlsen||Aug 1976|
|CDR E.P. “Pee Wee” Reese||Dec 1977|
|CDR D.E. Sloan||Mar 1979|
|CDR B.N. Jeffers||May 1980|
|CDR Bill Dwinelle||Aug 1981|
|CDR N.S. Kobylk||Nov 1982|
|CDR Tom Ford||May 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’ Haley||Jul 1996|
|CDR ‘JR’ Mathis||Oct 1997|
|CDR Ed Martin||Jan 1999|
|CDR Bud Bishop||Mar 2000|
|CDR Steve Baxter||May 2001|
|CDR Steve McInereny||Aug 2002|
|CDR Pat Bohan||Nov 2003|
|CDR John Meier||Feb 2005|
|CDR Rob Gamberg||May 2006|
|CDR Joel Jungemann||Aug 2007|
|CDR M.J. Columbo||Dec 2009|
|CDR M. Tatsch||Apr 2010|
|CDR M.A. O’Leary||Jul 2011|