OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- The "Shadowhawks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 held a flyover and a ceremony commemorating their designation of "Safe for Flight" in the EA-18G Growler on Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Wash., Feb. 12.
The event marked the culmination of a eight-month training phase for VAQ 141 under the tutelage of VAQ 129, the fleet replacement squadron, as they transitioned from the EA-6B Prowler to the Growler.
VAQ 141 is the second operational squadron to have achieved the qualification after the "Scorpions" of VAQ 132.
"June 1, 2009, is a day we all remember very well; it was the day we started our actual transition training over at VAQ 129," said Cmdr. David Bryson, VAQ 141 commanding officer. "Throughout the past summer and fall, both maintainers and air crew have worked extremely well. A lot of long hours have gone into both preparing for in-flight training in simulators and working towards qualifications for the maintainers so that we can maintain these beautiful aircraft."
The guest speakers for the event were Capt. Patrick Cleary, commander, Carrier Air Wing 8, and Capt. Tom Slais, commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
"It's a pretty phenomenal accomplishment to do that much work and reinvent yourselves in [less than] one year. I'm very proud of what you've done, and I'm very impressed with what you've done," said Cleary. "This airplane [the EA-18G] is the most capable airplane the U.S. Navy has today. I would argue that it is probably the most capable aircraft in the U.S. inventory today, which means it's the most capable aircraft in the world."
Bryson said he is proud of his crew's accomplishments over the course of the transition and is confident they will maintain their high standard of proficiency in the future.
"One thing I've noticed throughout this entire process in all the 'Shadowhawk' Sailors is this; even though the entire squadron was in the process of transition, the Sailors never actually changed," said Bryson. "They never went away from what makes this group of people great in my opinion, what I call the 'Shadowhawk Spirit,' and their work ethic; a great job on both accounts by these folks. This day would have never arrived, nor would the squadron have performed as well as it did during this transition without these Sailors and their work ethic and spirit. These are the people who got us to where we are today."
In recognition of the event a 2-year-old female Red-tailed Hawk, renamed Shadow for the occasion, was in attendance. "Shadowhawks" were afforded the opportunity to hold the raptor during the event. Shadow, owned by Whidbey Island local Joel Gerlach, was made available as the squadron mascot to represent them for this special occasion.
VAQ 141 will be the first Growler squadron to go on a ship-based deployment when they embark on the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) in spring of 2011.
"After all the well-deserved thank yous that I've gladly passed on today to a number of folks, my biggest thank you is reserved for the 'Shadowhawks' because without you, this day would not be possible," said Bryson.
"I cannot be more proud of your accomplishments, well done, congratulations and may God bless your continued success," said Slais.
The next squadron scheduled to complete the transition from the Prowler to the Growler is the VAQ 138 "Yellow Jackets" in August 2010.
For more news from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, visit www.navy.mil/local/nas whidbey/.