By Lt.j.g. Robert Hughes, VAQ-135
The Black Ravens of Electronic Attack Squadron 135 (VAQ-135) recently earned the 2012 Navy “E” Ribbon for sustained superior performance in an operational environment. (Continued …)
The origins of the Navy “E” date back to 1906 and President Theodore Roosevelt when he ordered a white “E” painted on gun turrets managed by crews with consistent outstanding performance. Over the years the award evolved to include engineering and aviation commands displaying superb readiness and efficiency.
The Navy “E” Ribbon, also known as the Battle Efficiency Award, was created in 1976 when the Secretary of the Navy established it to replace all other “E” awards.
When selecting a winner for this award, significant emphasis is given to operational proficiency during the squadron’s work-up phase and deployment. In addition to performance during deployment, the unit’s safety record, operational readiness and qualification currency are also taken into account when choosing Battle “E” winners.
The Black Ravens, over the period of one year, conducted five work-ups in preparation for their deployment. The operational tempo was high with all five work-up detachments taking place during just a six-month period.
In May 2012, VAQ-135 began their first deployment in the EA-18G Growler. Five months were spent in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and one month in support of contingency operations in AFRICOM.
During the deployment to Afghanistan VAQ-135 flew 1560.3 mishap-free flight hours over 414 combat sorties. The squadron’s professionalism, hard work and discipline produced a 99.3 percent sortie completion rate and proved that they were an invaluable asset in providing airborne support for coalition forces on the ground.
The VAQ-135 Maintenance Department was vital in the success of the Black Ravens deployment as well as in day to day operations. Tremendous work was done by all maintenance professionals to keep jets flying consistently and reliably throughout the year.
During the squadron’s Aviation Maintenance Inspection, the Black Ravens delivered a near perfect performance. VAQ-135 earned a grade of Zero “off-track” programs, which is directly attributed to the hard work of every Black Raven Sailor.
VAQ-135 is proud of their recent achievements and look forward to great success in the months ahead as they prepare for their next expeditionary deployment.