CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The "Shamrocks" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 41 held a sundown ceremony July 27 at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., to commemorate their decommissioning after 46 years of service.
The ceremony of VS-41 marks one of the last chapters in naval aviation history for the S-3 Viking aircraft and the personnel who support it.
"The decommissioning of the squadron is a very bittersweet evolution," said Cmdr. Gary M. Wilson, commanding officer of VS-41. "It's great to see old friends when they come back to visit. The bitter part is that the squadron is going away, folks that you have been working with are moving on."
According to Wilson, the introduction of the Viking for anti-submarine operations in 1975 was a revolutionary first step in electronic tracking, keeping up with advanced Soviet submarines.
VS-41 was commissioned June 30, 1960, receiving its first Viking Feb. 20, 1974. Since then, the training squadron has logged more than 347,000 flight hours, made more than 48,000 carrier landings, and has trained more than 35,000 personnel.
"It was challenging training, but it was very gratifying when you were finished," former student and flight instructor at VS-41, Rear Adm. Mark S. Boensel, commander Navy Region Southeast, said. "Some of my best friends in my life, not just my naval career, were made here at VS-41."
According to Wilson, part of the Navy's plan is to replace the Viking with multiple aircraft, using the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, P-3 Orion, and SH-60 helicopters for future missions.
"It's a positive move for the Navy, getting older aircraft out of the inventory that would normally suck up more maintenance dollars. Then we get a new platform that is more capable of doing the job," said Master Chief (SW/SS) Jeff Ignowski, VS-41 command master chief.
"Like any other change, we'll adapt and overcome," said Wilson. "But on the personal side, it (S-3 Viking) has been the platform I've flown for 16 years. It will be a sad day."
The VS-41 "Shamrocks" officially decommission Sept. 30.
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