World Famous Black Ravens
The BLACK RAVENS of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron ONE THREE FIVE joined the Naval Aviation Community on 15 May 1969, when the squadron was established to provide carrier air wings with electronic warfare and air to air refueling support. Homeported at NAS Alameda, California, the BLACK RAVENS first flew the Douglas EKA-3B ?Skywarrior? and deployed with several air wings of both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.
In 1973, VAQ-135 moved to its new homeport of NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and began a transition to their present aircraft, the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. On 19 July 1974, the squadron officially ?stood up? as a Prowler squadron in a ceremony held at NAS Whidbey Island.
The BLACK RAVENS first deployed with the EA-6B to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans from January to September 1976 with CVW-2 aboard USS RANGER (CV 61). Following that deployment, VAQ-135 underwent transition training once again, this time to the Improved Capability Prowler (ICAP) and became the first fleet EA-6B ICAP squadron. The squadron then deployed with CVW-8 aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) from November 1977 to July 1978 to the Mediterranean Sea.
VAQ-135 commenced refresher training in January 1979 with CVW-15 aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) and deployed to the Western Pacific in May 1979. While deployed, the BLACK RAVENS were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations in the Indian Ocean during the Iranian hostage crisis. They also received their first Chief of Naval Operations Safety ?S? Award and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
From April to November 1981, the BLACK RAVENS again deployed with CVW-15 aboard USS KITTY HAWK. VAQ-135 participated in several major exercises throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and was awarded a second Navy Expeditionary Medal. In addition, they earned the Humanitarian Service Medal for their participation in the rescue of Vietnamese refugees.
In May 1982, the BLACK RAVENS were assigned to USS AMERICA (CV 66) and CVW-1. After completing work-ups, the BLACK RAVENS received word to transfer to USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) and deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in November 1982 later receiving their second Chief of Naval Operations Safety ?S? Award.
In 1984, the Black Ravens again found themselves aboard USS AMERICA with CVW-1, deploying from April until November 1984, their efforts resulting in winning their third Chief of Naval Operations Safety ?S? Award. In 1985, the BLACK RAVENS and CVW-1 participated in the largest NATO Naval Exercise to date, Ocean Safari ?85, for which the squadron received the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
On the morning of 1 January 1986, VAQ-135 was ?no-notice? deployed to support Sixth Fleet Battle Group operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Within 48 hours, the BLACK RAVENS had sortied from NAS Whidbey Island, joined their new air wing (CVW-13) at sea on board USS CORAL SEA (CV 43) and commenced supporting contingency operations underway in the central Mediterranean Sea. For the next five months, with no in theater AIMD or supply support, the squadron provided valuable electronic warfare support to U.S. Naval forces operating off the coast of Libya. The BLACK RAVENS proved to be an essential element in the successful Naval strike action in the Gulf of Sidra in March of 1986 and provided key close-support jamming services in the successful strikes on the Benina/Benghazi airfields in April of that year. As a result, the squadron was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award for 1986.
The BLACK RAVENS were reassigned to CVW-11 aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CV 65) in November 1986. In 1987, VAQ-135 completed work-ups with CVW-11 and became the first Prowler squadron to complete the Medium Attack Advanced Readiness Program (MAARP) and the revised EA-6B Defensive Air Combat Maneuvering (DACM) syllabus.
In January 1988, VAQ-135 became the first EA-6B squadron to deploy with five Prowlers. WESTPAC ?88 marked the return of the BLACK RAVENS to the Seventh Fleet with USS ENTERPRISE, providing electronic warfare support to U.S. Naval forces operating in the North Arabian Sea, resulting in the receipt of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
VAQ-135 participated with CVW-11 and Battle Group FOXTROT in April 1988 in the highly successful action against Iranian naval surface units during Operation PRAYING MANTIS, resulting in the command receiving the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In the fall of 1988, the BLACK RAVENS transitioned to the ICAP-II version of the Prowler, acquiring the ability to fire the High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).
In September 1989, VAQ-135 deployed aboard USS ENTERPRISE for an around the world cruise, taking part in PACEX ?89, the largest naval exercise since World War II. In January 1990, the squadron participated in Operation EARNEST WILL in defense of the Philippine government, resulting in the command receiving the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
In September 1990, the BLACK RAVENS deployed aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72). Their two month maiden voyage took them from Norfolk Virginia, around Cape Horn to the LINCOLN?s new homeport of Alameda, California. In May 1991, the BLACK RAVENS deployed to the Western Pacific aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN and participated in Operation FIERY VIGIL, the evacuation of Air Force and Navy personnel from Subic Bay, Philippines. While on station in the Persian Gulf, the BLACK RAVENS took part in peacetime Operation DESERT STORM receiving the Southwest Asia Service Medal, BEACON FLASH exercises with Oman and annual exercise operations with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces. In February 1992, the BLACK RAVENS were presented the 1991 AIRPAC Safety ?S? award in recognition of the squadron?s outstanding safety record of over 12 years and 21,000 hours mishap free.
In the fall of 1992, the RAVENS started yet another work-up cycle for their second cruise on the LINCOLN on 14 August 1993. VAQ-135 shot its first HARM over the desert skies of China Lake in California. The BLACK RAVENS returned to the desert in Nevada several times throughout the winter in order to complete an arduous work-up cycle.
On June 15, 1993 the BLACK RAVENS deployed on WESTPAC ?93. Halfway around the world, the squadron participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the Iraq southern no-fly zone where they shot two HARM missiles to protect air wing aircraft from enemy surface to air missiles and received their second Southwest Asia Service Medal. They also flew numerous sorties in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE, while the LINCOLN was stationed off the coast of Somalia, resulting in the receipt of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In November 1993, the BLACK RAVENS celebrated yet another safety milestone, fourteen years mishap free, just prior to returning home to NAS Whidbey Island from WESTPAC ?93.
In May 1994, the RAVENS started the work-up cycle for WESTPAC ?95 in Cold Lake, Canada, showing their border friends the power of the mighty Prowler. In June 1994, VAQ-135 participated in a successful HARM shooting exercise off the coast of California, out of NAS Pt. Mugu.
VAQ-135 departed on WESTPAC ?95 in April on board the LINCOLN. The first exercise of the cruise was in May, when they worked with the Pakistani Air Force for INSPIRED ALERT. The rest of cruise involved keeping the Gulf safe as members of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, receiving their third Southwest Asia Service Medal. In July, the RAVENS worked with the Saudi Air and Naval forces in NAUTICAL ARTIST.
The RAVENS returned from cruise in October ?95 and had only six weeks off before starting pre-deployment work ups for WESTPAC ?96. In this 12 month turnaround, the RAVENS were either on the road or underway for over 7 months. Operations underway included RIMPAC ?96 and a HARM shot, while other detachments included CVW-11 Fallon detachment and Point Mugu for yet another HARM shoot. The RAVENS and CVW-11 had a new home though, the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63). The great deck of the HAWK was well matched with the fine airwork of the RAVENS and CVW-11. Cruise began in October 1996 and again began flying in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in November.
Upon their return from WESTPAC in April 1997, VAQ-135 spent the summer participating in the Joint Exercise, RED FLAG, and the Multi-National Exercise, MAPLE FLAG. In September 1997, VAQ-135 and CVW-11 joined the USS CARL VINSON team creating a potent strike capability.
In February 1998, the squadron was redesignated and will hereafter be called Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE FIVE. In April 1998, VAQ-135 headed to the deserts of Nevada and participated with Air Wing ELEVEN in joint exercises of Air Wing FALLON. In June, the BLACK RAVENS boarded the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) along with Air Wing ELEVEN and participated in RIMPAC ?98 in conjunction with Japanese defense forces off the shores of Hawaii. The summer of ?98 also brought new tail numbers for the BLACK RAVEN chariots, as they were now designated 500 series jets. In September, Air Wing ELEVEN rallied for a weeklong sustainment detachment off the coast of San Diego before heading off on WESTPAC 98/99.
On 9 November 1998, the BLACK RAVENS set sail with Team VINSON and Air Wing ELEVEN for WESTPAC 98/99. VAQ-135 headed westward toward the Arabian Gulf for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH as tensions with Coalition Forces and the Iraqi government grew stronger due to Iraq failing to comply with U. N. weapon inspections. In late December, the VINSON quickly steamed to the Arabian Gulf to participate in Operation DESERT FOX with the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) and fellow U. S. and British Forces. The campaign lasted four days with the BLACK RAVENS firing two AGM-88 HARM missiles in support of the Air Wing ELEVEN?s SEAD package. Multiple strikes by VAQ-135 and Air Wing ELEVEN took place throughout the New Year of 1999 as Operation SOUTHERN WATCH rolled on towards the Millennium. VAQ-135 returned from deployment on 01 May 1999.
In September 1999, the BLACK RAVENS participated in the Joint Exercise SPIRIT HAWK, followed by RED FLAG in January 2000. Both exercises were in preparation for the BLACK RAVEN?s deployment to Incirlik, Turkey.
In August 2000, the black Ravens went to Incirlik, Turkey for two months in support of OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH.
When VAQ-135 returned home they started preparing for their next Pacific cruise. The BLACK RAVENS along with Air Wing ELEVEN set out on WESTPAC 01/02 with expectations of supporting OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH. When September 11th occurred their ship, USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) turned around and took station off of Pakistan in preparation for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. The BLACK RAVENS flew continuous missions over Afghanistan supporting both attack aircraft and soldiers on the ground. With their mission accomplished, the BLACK RAVENS returned home on 19 Dec 2001.
The BLACK RAVENS found their homecoming to be joyous and full of awards. The squadron received the Safety ?S? for 2001, the Battle ?E? and the Association of Old Crows award which is given to the most tactically proficient Prowler Squadron.
The squadron kicked off a shortened turn-around cycle with a detachment to Cold Lake, Canada in May 2002. Following several training detachments to southern California and Fallon, Nevada, the BLACK RAVENS and Carrier Air Wing Eleven set sail on board the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) on March 3, 2003. The RAVENS arrived in the Northern Arabian Gulf in time to take part in the major air campaign operations of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. In August 2003 VAQ-135 and the NIMITZ departed the gulf to take part in two major contingency operations. After an extended eight-month deployment, the BLACK RAVENS returned home to Whidbey Island on November 5, 2003.
Posted by Bruce Schneider
Apr 14 2004 04:09:06:000AM