VAQ-209 'Star Warriors' Head into Future with New Home, New Planes and New Skipper

Story Number: NNS131213-16Release Date: 12/13/2013 4:46:00 PM
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From Commander Naval Air Force Reserve Public Affairs

NAS WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron 290 (VAQ-209), 'Star Warriors," held an airborne change of command Dec. 7.

Cmdr. James T. King relieved Cmdr. Casey J. Casad.

Casad's next assignment will be Joint Chiefs of Staff (J8) at the Pentagon. During his tour as commanding officer, VAQ-209 ceased EA-6B operations in May 2013 marking more than 35 years and 36,000 hours of Class A mishap-free flying. In July 2013 VAQ-209 conducted a homeport change to NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., and commenced transition to the EA-18G Growler.

"VAQ-209's EA-18G transition is the most significant tactical upgrade in the history of Naval Air Force Reserve," said Casad. "Transitions are much more complicated than simply shifting to a new airplane. The manpower and personnel shifts are far more complex to manage than learning the new jet.

"Our transition has gone extremely efficiently to date because of the prepwork and coordination completed with the TYCOM, Tactical Support Wing, Navy Personnel Command, and Reserve Forces Command a full year prior to the commencement date," Casad said. "Furthermore, Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet has been extremely supportive and helped us navigate past many of the pitfalls experienced by Fleet VAQ squadrons during their transitions."

King, a native of Virginia Beach, Va. and graduated from Norfolk Academy in 1992. He attended Mary Washington College where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1997. He earned his commission from Officer Candidate School, the same year, and was designated a naval aviator in 2000.

Following completion of the EA-6B Fleet Replacement Squadron, King joined the VAQ-136 "Ironclaw" in Atsugi, Japan. As part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces he completed numerous WESTPAC deployments aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) flying missions in support of the final days of Operation Southern Watch and during the opening weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After his tour with "the Claw," he returned to VAQ-129 for instructor duty. During this time he attended the Electronic Attack Weapons School earning the designation of a Prowler tactics instructor.

In 2007 he reported to Manama, Bahrain where he served as the deputy director of Information Operations for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet.

King left active duty in 2008, and transferred to the Navy Reserve and VAQ-209 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. He deployed with VAQ-209 in 2009, '10 and '11 to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan for combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has served as executive officer since 2012.

King has more than 2,000 flight hours and more than 250 arrested landings. His decorations include the Air Medal/Strike Flight (3), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat 'V' (2), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2) and various unit and campaign awards. In his civilian career, he works for Dynamic Analytics and Test as the project director for a team of analysts supporting the Joint Improvised Explosive Defeat Organization and the Joint Staff J39 deputy director for Global Operations Electronic Warfare Branch. He and his wife Alyssa currently reside in Washington D.C.

Electronic Attack Squadron 209 was commissioned Oct. 1, 1977, under the operational and administrative control of Commander, Carrier Air Wing Reserve 20. VAQ-209 has flown electronic warfare missions with elements of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the U.S. Air Force and the National Guard. Shore deployments spanned the globe from the west coast of the United States to the heartland of Europe with detachments participating in exercises with Canada, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey and the federal Republic of Germany.

Deployments at sea have included operations from the carriers USS Lexington (CV-16), USS Forrestal (CV-59), USS Independence (CV-62), USS Saratoga (CV-60), USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS America (CV-66), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), USS George Washington (CVN-73), USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), USS Enterprise (CVN-65), USS Constellation (CV-64) and most recently USS Nimitz (CVN-68).

Having flown the EA-6A Electronic Intruder at NAS Norfolk, Virginia since 1977, VAQ-209 relocated to Naval Air Facility Washington, on Andrews Air Force Base in 1990 and transitioned to the EA-6B Prowler. This event marked not only the significant upgrading of CVWR-20's Electronic Attack capability, but also the first assignment of the Navy's EA-6B aircraft to be home ported outside of Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island Washington.

Starting in the mid-1990s, the Star Warriors began mobilizing in support operational commitments as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1995, they mobilized for combat operations over Bosnia and participated in both Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force.

In 1998, VAQ-209 Deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey with 4 EA-6B aircraft to conduct combat operations in direct support of Operation Northern Watch. VAQ-209 was the first Prowler squadron to deploy with only three aircraft and not miss a single mission, the first Naval Reserve squadron to deploy to Incirlik in support of this operation, and the first EA-6B squadron to carry the AGM-88 HARM missile into theater.

From 1998 to 2006, the squadron flew missions in support of Operation Allied Force, Operation Southern Watch, and exercises Jazz Gold, Clean Hunter, Cope Thunder and many others.

In 2005 VAQ-209 deployed to the Pacific theater in support of the U.S Marine Corps 3rd Air Wing Unit Deployment Program. Based in Iwakuni Japan, the squadron stood watch during a period of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In 2006, VAQ-209 deployed to Al-Asad Airbase, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Primarily assigned to missions in the Al-Anbar Province and over Baghdad, the squadron flew more than 300 combat sorties totaling of more than 1,500 flight hours. VAQ-209 partnered with military task forces and other government agencies and played a key role in providing the electronic denial and deception necessary to effect the capture/kill of several high value insurgent leaders.

After returning from Iraq, VAQ-209 deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and thus began its annual ritual - a trek into the Hindu Kush of Central Asia.

In 2010 VAQ-209 made a clean sweep of the Battle "E", Safety "S", and Golden Wrench awards subsequently was awarded the McCampbell Trophy as the Navy's most outstanding Reserve Forece Squadron.

The Star Warriors of VAQ-209 stand ready to deploy for any and all future needs in the defense of the country and its interests abroad.

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