Four Strike Fighter Squadrons Return To NASL

Last Updated : 2/28/2012 8:38:22 AM



Four strike fighter squadrons return home from seven-month deployment


By Melinda Larson

NAS Lemoore

Public Affairs



NAS LEMOORE (Feb. 26, 2012) -- The F/A-18 jets of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9’s strike fighter squadrons (VFA) returned to Naval Air Station Lemoore Sunday following a seven-month deployment aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).


Pilots and weapons systems officers of VFA-14’s “Tophatters,”  VFA-41’s “Black Aces,” VFA-97’s “Warhawks,” and VFA-192’s “Golden Dragons”  were met by jubilant family members and friends. 


“I’m due with our third child in three weeks and it will be great to have him home,” said Mindi Willet as she waited with her children Greg and Belle for their dad, Lt. Nicholas Willet of VFA-41.  


NAS Lemoore-based squadrons played a pivotal role in the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and provided aviation support to coalition ground troops in Afghanistan, as well as conducted counter-piracy and maritime security operations and participated in several cooperative engagements with military partners in the region.


“Navy air presence has been absolutely essential to Operation New Dawn, and the overall military mission in Iraq,” said Rear Adm. Craig Faller, commander of the John C. Stennis Strike group (JCCSG). 


The JCSSG maintained a forward presence in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR) to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with regional partners while deterring aggressors, ensuring freedom of the seas and regional security and stability.


Additionally, the strike group conducted several readiness exercises with partner countries in the region as well as visits to Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.


About 800 crewmembers from the squadrons, Carrier Air Wing 9 and Fleet Readiness Center’s Sea Operation detachment are also scheduled to return to NAS Lemoore.  The USS John C. Stennis left its homeport of Bremerton, Wash., on July 25, 2011.