More than 300 men and women and 58 aircraft of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW 8) returned home August 17 and 18, following their seven-month deployment attached to the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG).
The air wing, commanded by Capt. Jim McCall, left their home bases of Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Station Mayport, and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Jan. 21 on a regularly scheduled deployment as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group and sailed toward the Mediterranean Sea and its 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
Under the command of Carrier Strike Group Two (CSG 2), Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, CVW 8 conducted maritime and theater security operation efforts and missions supporting Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria.
While conducting flight operations in both the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, CVW 3 performed a record number of accomplishments including 11,347 sorties, of which 1,924 were combat missions. An impressive 30,873 flight hours were logged with 12,603 of those in actual combat. In addition CVW 8 aircraft logged 7,868 arrested landings, or “traps” during the deployment.
The aviators delivered 1,717 pieces of ordnance including Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) for a total of 1,814,000 pounds (907 tons). These numbers set post-Desert Storm records for a CVN/CVW team.
CVW 8 squadrons are: The “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 flying F/A-18 F “Super Hornets”; The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 flying F/A-18E “Super Hornets”; VFA-37 “Ragin’ Bulls”, F/A-18C “Hornets”; and the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors” flying F/A-18E “Super Hornets.”
The “Bear Aces” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124 fly E-2C “Hawkeye” airborne command and control aircraft and The “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40, Detachment 2, operate the C-2A “Greyhound” carrier onboad delivery (COD) aircraft.
The Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 9 “Tridents” fly MH-60S “Sea Hawk” helicopters.
Two additional squadrons round out CVW 8’s inventory: Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131, the “Lancers”, fly EA-18G “Growlers”, electronic warfare aircraft, based at Whidbey Island, Wa., and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 “Spartans” and their MH-60R “Sea Hawk” helicopters are based at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
The skill, expertise and dedication shown by the leadership and aviators of CVW-8 is a testament to their profession and Naval service as a whole.