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VAQ-137(I)        1973-1994

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-ONE THREE SEVEN was established at NAS Whidbey Island WA on 14 December 1973 as the seventh unit to fly the Grumman EA-6B Prowler and only the second had not previously flown the Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior.

The new unit quickly took the nickname “Rooks”, the image being another name for a Raven; a gregarious bird that Northwest Indians supposedly felt had remarkable powers and the ability to deceive its enemies.   Their new insignia reflected Northwest Indian art as well, befitting their geographical location.

The “Rooks” were equipped with new Expanded Capability (EXCAP) EA-6B Prowlers and soon joined Carrier Air Wing-14 in USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) for their first extended deployment, which went to the Western Pacific where they participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the final evacuation of South Vietnam.

From there they moved to the America and CVW-6, where they made two trips to the Mediterranean.  In 1978 VAQ-137 was transferred again, now to the Ranger (CV-61)/CVW-2 team, with three Western Pacific deployments being carried out through the end of 1982.

In 1983 the squadron was moved to the USS John F. Kennedy and CVW-3, with whom they made another visit to the Med, in a cruise that was punctuated by one day of combat supporting U.S. strikes into Lebanon. 

Upon return to Whidbey VAQ-137 became the first fleet squadron to receive the new Improved Capabilities II (ICAP II) version of the EA-6B, the Rooks making the first deployment of this type to the Med in August 1985 as a part of the Saratoga/CVW-17 team. After a swing through the Suez Canal and Red Sea into the Indian Ocean they returned to the Med, where the squadron participated in combat off Libya as a part of Operation Prairie Fire, where they supported Navy aircraft striking Libyan Naval units.

The “Rooks” followed with another trip to the Med and IO before moving to CVW-1 and the carrier America. (CV-66).  Their initial 1989 deployment with that team was followed by a second which involved extended combat as part of Operation Desert Storm.  Among their other achievements, VAQ-137 was the only EA-6B squadron to fly combat missions out of both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf while flying 212 combat sorties.

VAQ-137 was home by April 1991 only to return to the Med and IO in December the same year. A fourth, 1993 deployment in America proved to be their last as they had received word that they would disestablished as part of the President Clinton-era reduction in forces being carried out by the Department of Defense.  Their place in Air Wing-ONE would be taken by Marine Prowler squadron VMAQ-3 and the “Rooks” recovered at Whidbey Island knowing they only had a few months remaining.

The first VAQ-137 was disestablished on 26 May 1994, with the proud “Rook” name only to return only two years later.

 

Radford Award: 1982-83, 1988, 1990

Battle "E": 1982-83 (Pac), 1986-87 (Lant), 1991 (Lant),

Major Deployments

Sep 1974-May 1975

Enterprise

CVW-14

WPAC

 

Apr-Oct 1976

America

CVW-6

Med

 

Sep 1977-Apr 1978

America

CVW-6

Med

 

Feb-Sep 1979

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC

 

Oct 1980-May 1981

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC

 

Apr-Oct 1982

Ranger

CVW-2

WPAC

 

Sep 1983-Apr 1984

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-3

Med

 

Aug 1985-Apr 1986

Saratoga

CVW-17

Med/IO

OPF

Jun-Nov 1987

Saratoga

CVW-17

Med/IO

 

May-Nov 1989

America

CVW-1

Med/IO

 

Dec 1990-Apr 1991

America

CVW-1

Med/IO

ODS

Dec 1991-Jun 1992

America

CVW-1

Med/IO

OSW

Aug 1993-Feb 1994

America

CVW-1

Med/IO

OSW

OPF: Operation Prairie Fire, ODS: Operation Desert Storm,  OSW: Operation Southern Watch

 

Commanding Officers

CDR Ron McDivitt

Dec 1973

CDR James Flyum

Nov 1974

CDR George Miller

Nov 1975

CDR Ralph DeWalt

May 1977

CDR Ray Sullivan

Jun 1978

CDR Jim Lamb

Sep 1979

CDR Larry Gardiner

Oct 1980

CDR “TJ” Williams

Jan 1982

CDR Jim Eckert

Jul 1983

CDR Dan Roper

Jan 1985

CDR Roy Christian

May 1986

CDR Tom Noonan

Oct 1987

CDR Marty Sherrard

Jun 1989

CDR Rick “Sloth” Stevens

Oct 1990

CDR Ken Krech

Mar 1992

CDR Steve Ewell

Jun 1993

VAQ-137 (II)             1996-

            On 3 October 1996 the second squadron to bear the designation VAQ-137 was established at NAS Whidbey Island.  The new unit adopted the “Rook” nickname and traditions of the previous VAQ-137, although, as per Navy Instruction, not the lineage or honors.

            The second edition of the “Rooks” replaced VMAQ-3 in Air Wing-ONE and started their first deployment in the USS George Washington (CVN-74) in October 1997. In 1999 they switched to the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) for another visit to the Med and IO, returning home in March 2000.

            Their third deployment (September 2001 to March 2002) , now in USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) included combat over Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.  This cruise included the first combat use of Night Vision Goggles by Prowler crew. Moving again, now to the Enterprise, they returned to combat over Afghanistan in 2003, which featured a land-based detachment at Bagram Air Base; the first such assignment by any Prowler squadron.

            The “Rooks” transitioned to the ICAP III version of the EA-6B IN 2005 and made three cruises in that aircraft.  The 2006 deployment in Enterprise featured operations as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and “split base” ops at Al Asad, Iraq.  They reverted to the ICAP II in 2011 and made one more deployment with the Enterprise/CVW-1 team before starting transition to the Boeing EA-18G Growler in 2013.

 

Deployments

Oct 1997-Apr 1998

G. Washington

CVW-1

Med/IO/PG

OSW

Sep 1999-Mar 2000

J.F. Kennedy

CVW-1

Med/IO

OSW

Sep 2001-Mar 2002

T. Roosevelt

CVW-1

Med/IO

OEF

Aug 2003-Feb 2004

Enterprise

CVW-1

Med/IO/Bagram

OEF

May-Nov 2006

Enterprise

CVW-1

Med/IO/WPAC

OIF

Jul-Dec 2007

Enterprise

CVW-1

Med/IO

OIF

Jan-Jul 2011

Enterprise

CVW-1

Med/IO

OIF

Mar-Nov 2012

Enterprise

CVW-1

Med/IO

OIF

OSW: Operation Southern Watch, OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom, OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

Commanding Officers

CDR Ron Plucker

Oct 1996

CDR Craig Geron

May 1997

CDR “Woody” Gruetzmacher

Oct 1988

CDR Bill “Snake” Griffin

Jan 2000

CDR Gary Peterson

Apr 2001

CDR Brian “Duty” Glackin

Aug 2002

CDR Jeff Ruth

Oct 2003

CDR Kevin Meenghan

Feb 2005

CDR Mike “Gap” Buchanan

May 2006

CDR James Lins

Oct 2007

CDR Gary “Patsy” Patenaude

Jan 2009

CDR David Edgarton

Apr 2010

CDR Mike MacNicholl

Jun 2011

CDR Trevor Estes

Oct 2012

 

Radford Award: 2001
Battle “E”:  1997, 2001, 2007