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Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 “Rooks”

Squadron History

The Rooks first deployed in 1974 with CVW-14 for a Western Pacific cruise onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), providing essential electronic surveillance for Operation FREQUENT WIND, the evacuation of Americans from Saigon. Between 1976 and 1978, the Rooks made two Mediterranean cruises with CVW-6 onboard USS AMERICA (CV 66). In April 1976, the squadron provided standoff ECM support for the evacuation of Americans from Beirut, Lebanon. Between 1979 and 1982, the Rooks made three WESTPAC cruises with CVW-2 onboard the USS RANGER (CV 61). In 1983, the Rooks joined CVW-3 for an action-packed Med cruise onboard USS KENNEDY (CV 67). In November, they participated in the air strike against an Iranian training camp at Baalbek, Lebanon.

In February 1984, the Rooks flew support missions while multi-national peacekeeping forces pulled out of Lebanon. Between 1985 and 1987, the squadron made two Med cruises with CVW-17 onboard USS SARATOGA (CV 60). In March 1986, the Rooks participated in the successful air strike against an SA-5 site at Sirte, Libya.

In 1989, the Rooks joined CVW-1 for a Med and Indian Ocean cruise onboard USS AMERICA (CV 66). During nine months at sea, the Rooks participated in nine major exercises in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. When the United States evacuated the Beirut Embassy in September, the Rooks were airborne within hours of entering the Mediterranean Sea providing EW support to the operation. In December 1990, the Rooks deployed aboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) in August 1991. The Rooks were the first EA-6B squadron that fought in DESERT STORM to return to the area arriving on station a mere 12 months after the war. The Rooks last deployment prior to disestablishment ended in February 1994. During that deployment, the Rooks participated in operation CONTINUE HOPE over Somalia, SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq and DENY FLIGHT over Bosnia.

The Rooks were formally disestablished on 26 May 1994, however were re-established on 3 October 1996 onboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Upon reaching full operational capability, the Rooks were assigned to CVW-1 and deployed onboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73). During the 1997deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the Rooks led the EA-6B community and CVW-1 in all operational parameters: At the conclusion of the deployment, the Rooks were awarded the Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet, Battle Efficiency Award for outstanding performance during 1997.

In September of 1999, the Rooks deployed onboard the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CVN 64). The Rooks were both the first and last members of CVW-1 to fly missions in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH combat sorties.

The Rooks deployed on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) on September 19, 2001 and spent a record 159 days at sea during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

In February of 2003 the Rooks began Pre-deployment workups. After a disjointed schedule they completed Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA) III and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMTUEX) IN September 2003 and began deployment on October 3, 2003 with Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1) onboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65).

In May 2006, the Rooks deployed onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) as a component of Carrier Air Wing ONE and Carrier Strike Group TWO. VAQ-137 successfully conducted split site operations in AL ASAD, Iraq in direct support of the Global War on Terrorism.

In July 2007, the Rooks found themselves going back to support the troops in Iraq from the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) in the Persian Gulf. The Rooks successfully helped ensure the safety of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen on the ground during the increased operation tempo of the surge. The Rooks returned from this rigorous deployment in December 2007. Two deployments only seven months apart with associated workups tested every member of the squadron and their families.

Although the Rooks had no operational commitments following two back to back deployments, VAQ-137 participated in seven major detachments while excelling in 15 major inspections, 12 Fully Mission Capable aircraft transfers to deploying squadrons and temporary loans of six aircraft. VAQ-137 continued to support the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS), Electronic Attack Weapon School (EAWS), and CVWP while executing squadron training.

In 2010, the Rooks finally had an Inter Deployment Readiness Cycle (IDRC). The squadron's continued support of the Electronic Attack Weapons School (EAWS) helped smooth the Rooks transition to a deployable asset. The squadron came together and focused on an IDRC while balancing the priorities of detachments to the east coast and rigorous maintenance requirements, including TSTA, COMTUEX, and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFX).

For the Rooks, 2011 was monopolized by a deployment and rigorous training to deploy again the following year. In the 2011 deployment, the squadron supported combat operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) and NEW DAWN (OND), as well as counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The Rooks overcame further challenges at home by transitioning from ICAP III aircraft to the older ICAP II aircraft. In short order they were ready to employ the newly accepted aircraft during Air Wing Fallon and back onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). The deployment was dominated by providing direct support for combat operations in OEF, where the Rooks amassed 165 combat sorties and 1040 combat hours.

2013 marked another momentous occasion for VAQ-137, the command transitioned from the EA-6B Prowler to the new EA-18G Growler. All hands took on the challenge of learning a new platform and were soon tested as work-ups began in early 2014 with detachments to locations such as Key West FL, Fallon NV, and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) for COMTUEX and TSTA.

In March 2015, the Rooks deployed for the first time flying the EA-18G Growler, as part of CVW-1 onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). Throughout the nine month deployment, the Rooks conducted combat operations in Iraq and Syria supporting Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR), executing 291 combat sorties and 1,777 hours.

After returning home from deployment, the Rooks entered an array of post deployment training and maintenance phases in 2016. The squadron participated in a Red Flag Alaska detachment during April and May, working with US Air Force and Indian Air Force assets.

Following a successful workup cycle, the Rooks deployed aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) in April 2018. After leaving Norfolk, VA the squadron participated in Operation LIGHTNING HANDSHAKE off the coast of Morocco in order to prepare for combat operations. The carrier then traveled toward the Easter Mediterranean in support of Operation INHERENET RESOLVE. Heavy tasking led to the Rooks flying over 370 combat hours in just 22 fly days, with an impressive 100% combat sortie completion rate earning the squadron the CVW-1 Golden Wrench for the line period.

After an extended port call in Norfolk, the Rooks and CVW-1 returned to sea in the second half of 2018. This time the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) traveled north to be the first carrier in over 30 years to conduct flight operations north of the Arctic Circle when they participated in Operation TRIDENT JUNCTURE. The flight deck crews persevered in frigid conditions and earned the Order of the Blue Nose as they launched jets to conduct multi-national flight operations. The Rooks finally returned to NAS Whidbey Island in December 2018.

Since their original commissioning on December 14, 1973, the Rooks of VAQ-137 have flown three versions of the EA-6B Prowler onboard seven different aircraft carriers in every major theater. They've earned four Navy Unit Commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, six Battle "E" awards, three Navy Expeditionary Medals, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, one Humanitarian Service Medal, and Seven Safety "S" awards. In 1988, the squadron was awarded the Prowler Excellence Award. Twice the Rooks were selected "Prowler Squadron of the Year", and five times they've been awarded the prestigious Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for highest achievement in electronic warfare among all VAQ squadrons.

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