War on Terrorism

Monday, November 07, 2011

VAQ-209 Returns to Joint Base Andrews Following Deployment to Afghanistan

By Mass Communication Specialists 2nd Class Clifford L. H. Davis and Ron Kuzlik

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md (NNS) -- The Star Warriors of Electronic Attack Squadron 209 (VAQ-209) returned to Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility (NAF) Washington Nov. 4 following an 85-day deployment in Afghanistan.

Flying the twin-engine Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, VAQ-209 is the Navy Reserve's only electronic attack squadron. They were deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During deployment, the Star Warriors flew 193 combat sorties with a mission completion rate of 100 percent, delivering 769 hours of electronic combat suppression against the enemy while the VAQ-209 maintenance department accomplished a combat sortie completion rate of 99.51 percent. The Star Warriors also serviced more than 226 joint tactical air support requests (JTASR).

"My people did awesome," said VAQ-209 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Dana Perkins. "They produced every single day, doing 24-hour-a-day ops, for 60-plus days. Every day, my maintainers worked port and starboard shifts - 12 hours on, 12 hours off. "

This was the first deployment for Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Joseph Dahl, from Queens, N.Y.

"It was tough during the first week we were gone," said Dahl. "But it was a good experience and I'm glad to finally be home and see my family."

Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Wilfredo Morales was the first Star Warrior off the C-40A Clipper transport aircraft as it pulled up on the tarmac.

Morales became a father during the deployment. His wife Jessica gave birth to their son Able while Morales was in Afghanistan, and it is Navy tradition for new fathers to be the first to disembark.

"I am so excited to see my son and be able to hold him," said Morales. "It's not the same seeing him in pictures or over the Web camera."

"I'm really happy and excited to have him home," said Morales' wife Jessica. "When I saw him come down the steps of the plane, all I wanted to do was hug him and kiss him and let him meet his new baby."

"It was a very successful deployment and I'm very happy with what we accomplished," Perkins said. "I couldn't ask for a better group of people, or better execution."

VAQ-209's mission is to project power through suppression of enemy air defenses in support of strike aircraft and ground troops by providing unrestricted electonic attack as needed throughout the world.

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