By Lt. Candice Nunley, VAQ-142 Public Affairs Officer
USS NIMITZ, At Sea – The Sailors of Electronic Attack Squadron 142 returned home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island December 12, following the completion of an extended deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR) aboard the Everett-based aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
The Gray Wolves left Whidbey Island in early April to join Carrier Strike Group ELEVEN (CSG 11). During their nine-month Western Pacific deployment, the Gray Wolves flew training missions in the skies around Hawaii, Wake Island, South Korea, and many Western Pacific islands.
After port calls in Busan, South Korea and Phuket, Thailand, the NIMITZ CSG-11 steamed west to relieve USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69) in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The VAQ-142 Gray Wolves began flying combat missions over Afghanistan in June and celebrated the completion of their last OEF mission in late August. They had good reason to celebrate as, in a little less than three months, the squadron flew 93 combat sorties amounting to 637 mishap-free flight hours and a 100% mission completion rate.
However, shortly before chopping out of 5th Fleet, CSG-11 received the first of what would be three extensions for potential contingency operations in support of the chemical weapons de-armament of Syria. The Gray Wolves remained ever vigilant, tirelessly working to execute sorties in preparation and training.
In a surprise turn of events, the Gray Wolves transited the Suez Canal in mid-October. Escaping the heat of the Red Sea, VAQ-142 was excited to be part of a once in a lifetime west coast cruise to the Mediterranean Sea. Shortly before pulling into port in Naples, Italy, the Gray Wolves explored the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and participated in joint operations with the French Chevalier Paul (D 621) and the British HMS Dragon (D 35).
Though proud to have supported the needs of the nation in an uncertain time, the Gray Wolves are looking forward to their long overdue homecoming. VAQ-142 is ready to meet family members, friends, and shipmates with open arms.