WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. — After a six-month deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), the Fighting Marlins of Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40) returned home this month to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The Fighting Marlins executed 538 operational sorties encompassing 5229.6 flight hours while successfully conducting several detachments in the region. The squadron’s maintenance team performed over 23,600 man-hours on mission critical systems and avionics, contributing to a 99 percent mission completion rate.
The squadron supported several major operational units including the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) carrier strike groups. Additionally, VP-40 played an integral role in maritime security and anti-piracy operations. The squadron also provided maritime support during 26 exercises throughout the 5th Fleet AOR.
“As Fighting Marlins, you’ve got a glorious history,” said Vice Adm. John W. Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/United States 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces, during a visit with VP-40 during their deployment. “You’ve built on that. You’ve made it better. Take what you learned here and be proud of it, go home and talk about it.”
Family and friends of the squadron held signs, flowers and flags as they anxiously awaited their Sailor’s return. They cheered as the aircraft pulled up to VP-40’s hangar adorned with a large American flag, balloons and refreshments. It was also a backdrop for a special surprise.
Upon landing, Lt. Adam Kimball dropped down onto one knee and proposed to his fiancé. He said they had planned to get engaged since before deployment. She didn’t know the proposal was going to be public, he said.
“She was stunned,” said Kimball. “I’ve never been so happy before in my life.”
The Fighting Marlins are home for a 12-month Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle before they deploy again next year. VP-40 has a rich heritage dating back to 1951, and an exemplary history of successful deployments, this one being no exception.
“I could not be more proud of the Sailors, chiefs and officers and what they accomplished during this deployment,” said Cmdr. Patrick D. Hansen, VP-40 Commanding Officer. “The Fighting Marlin Team provided critical and timely information to the 5th Fleet and CENTCOM commanders, on a daily basis.”
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Naval Aircrewman Operator 2nd Class Mathew Bailey holds his baby for the first time. VP-40 returned home from deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jillian Lotti/Released)