By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Caleb Cooper, Commander, Naval Air Forcea Public Affairs
WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- The "Cougars" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island June 4 after a nearly 10-month deployment in support of U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
VAQ-139 arrived home after participating in exercise Valiant Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve and contingency operations while deployed in support of the war on terrorism.
"It's important that we were able to protect our brethren with electronic attack and to more precisely target the enemy," said Cmdr. Lew Callaway, VAQ-139 commanding officer. "I think we were able to contribute to keeping America safer from terrorism overseas through operations in Iraq, Syria and contingency operations."
The squadron's homecoming provided their families and friends an opportunity to reflect on the vital role their Sailors played throughout the deployment.
"I think it's amazing," said Julee Shepley, wife of Lt. Dillon Shepley. "I'm blessed to be by his side while he's living his dreams and fighting for his country."
Sailors from VAQ-139 matured in their time out to sea and leadership was proud.
"I enjoyed watching them go from transition, to sustain combat operations, to making it home," said VAQ-139's Command Master Chief Shane Cardon. "Watching their growth was amazing."
VAQ-139 Sailors understood the importance of their mission but are happy to be home.
"It's great to see my family," said Callaway. "I love watching my junior officers meet their families again. It's been a very long cruise but absolutely worth it to know we kept America safe for both our brethren at Carrier Air Wing 17 and the coalition."
In preparation for the deployment, VAQ-139 completed training at Naval Outlying Field Coupeville, Washington, prior to embarking aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
"The training we conducted at Naval Outlying Field Coupeville showed results," said Callaway. "We had 1,200 landings on the boat and zero mishaps."
VAQ-139 flies the EA-18G Growler, which combines the capability of the combat-proven F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with the latest airborne electronic attack avionics suite. The Growler's vast array of sensors and weapons provide the warfighter with a lethal and survivable weapon system to counter current and emerging threats.