0900 March 01 1983 The ceremony you are witnessing today is part of the rich heritage of naval tradition. Since the days of the maritime New England Colonies, naval custom and ceremony have been the "SPIRITUAL CEMENT" of our military organization.
This ceremony marks the formal inauguration of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Three-Four (VAQ-34) into the operating forces of the United States Navy.
The officers and men of VAQ-34 welcome you to this significant event.
SQUADRON HISTORY AND MISSION
The requirement for dedicated West Coast tactical electronic warfare capability to provide support for Fleet electronic warfare training has exceeded available resources in recent years. In February 1980 the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) directed expansion of West Coast Fleet Electronic Warfare Support Group capability. Included, was establishment of a new squadron, Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Three-Four (VAQ34). In June 1981, the CNO directed that VAQ-34 would be an active Navy Squadron with an initial operational capability by March 1983.
The squadrons primary mission is to play an adversary role in Fleet exercises, employing equipment and tactics which simulate those of potential enemies. The squadron is also tasked to provide support for individual unit training and for research, development, test, and evaluation projects assigned by the CNO.
When at full strength, the squadron will have a complement of 44 officers and 257 enlisted personnel VAQ-34 will operate six EA-7L, four ERA-3B and one KA-3B aircraft.
Home station is NAS Point Mugu, California, with operating detachments wherever Fleet electronic warfare training is conducted.
Starting from ScratchBy J02 James Elliott
How do you go about starting a squadron? Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 can tell you. VAQ-34 celebrated its first birthday at the Pacific Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, Calif., on March 1, 1984, and the memories of its birth pangs are still fresh.
They started with an old hangar. Yeoman First Class Jack L. Payne was the first of the squadron personnel to arrive at Point Mugu. Although he was assigned a desk, a chair and a phone, he soon found that there was a vast difference between furniture assigned on paper and furniture in hand. There was mostly just the old building.
A little later, Lieutenant Stephen R. Land arrived in November 1982, to head the advance detachment that came in ahead of the squadron. They acquired a typewriter, but had to borrow the paper. During the months until March 1983, when the squadron was formally established, they answered telephone inquiries about the base, weather, etc., arranged for housing and, in general, paved the way for incoming personnel.
Finally, on March 1, 1983, in the middle of a major storm that hit Southern California that day, VAQ-34 was officially established with Commander John E. Millward as its first Commanding officer. The squadrons mission was to provide electronic warfare support and training for the fleet.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Jeff Gruetzmacher, a squadron NFO who also serves as its public affairs officer, says, "We did pretty well in our first year, taking bits and pieces from here and there, as well as help from anyone who would give it". Where assets were lacking, ingenuity took over.
The first priority was aircraft. A field team from NARF Alameda was assigned the task of retrieving four RA-38s from desert storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Since 40 percent of the major aircraft components were either missing or unusable, much preparatory work had to be done by the NARF team before they could fly the planes out. The planes were then inducted into standard depot level maintenance to get them ready for delivery to VAQ-34, and all of them have since been accepted by the squadron.
The RA-38s are scheduled for conversion to ERA-3Bs under a contract from NARF Alameda which will equip them for their intended electronic warfare role. This will enable the squadron to provide the most realistic, hostile electronic environment possible for fleet training. Cdr. Millward refers to the squadrons role as the fleets sparring partner.
The same boneyard that yielded up the four RA-3Bs relinquished a KA-38 to the squadrons own "desert reclamation team." The operation was accomplished between February 19 and March 9, 1983, whileVAQ-34 was still forming, and it allowed training of aircrew and maintenance personnel to begin while they waited for delivery of the ERA-3Bs. The squadron team redeemed the aircraft at a large savings in man-hours and money.
The newly acquired KA-3B is used for aerial refueling during operational exercises, refresher and initial tanking qualifications for West Coast air wings, and tanking support for various prior projects as designated by the Chief of Naval Operations.
Six TA-7Cs were also transferred to the squadron from existing fleet assets. The planes were modified at Point Mugu, where change kits were installed to convert the jet aircraft to electronic warfare platforms to create a realistic air-launched threat scenario. They are being redesigned EA-7Ls to indicate their unique configuration,
During the period of its build-up, VAQ-34 flew a total of 1,765 hours in support of major fleet exercises, including training in anti-air warfare, electronic warfare counter measures, counter-counter measures and electronic surveillance, command and control training in the electronic warfare environment, practical emissions control, and operator training in the face of simulated missile attacks. The squadron also participated in numerous small-scale exercises in support of the fleet.
All these operations were carried on with limited equipment and while the squadron spaces were undergoing major renovations in the electrical wiring, plumbing, phone systems even new walls, ceilings and floors. In order to meet their operational commitments, they had moved in before their quarters were ready. This has been a first for everyone since no one aboard had ever before been involved in getting a squadron on the road, and executive officer Commander Richard Affeld says, "I think we surprised everybody, especially here at the station.
Cdr. Millward commented that starting with a diverse group, all coming together at one time from many areas of the Navy. they had melded into a closely knit squadron. He feels that theyre pretty good at their job across the board.
In discussing their role as the adversaries, he said, "We had a crew of nugget pilots who are competent fleet aviators now, and who can go on their own in a full spectrum of the squadrons operational missions."
Naval Aviation News Nov-Dec 1984
THE OFFICERS OF VAQ-34
CHIEF PETTY OFFICERS OF VAQ-34
THE ENLISTED MEN AND WOMEN OF VAQ-34
AMS1 Joe Hawkins
I reported for duty with DET VAQ-34 NAS Point Mugu, California on October 15, 1982 as an Airman Apprentice. There were about 25 of us, LCDR Steve Land was the OIC, Chief Mike Selke was the HMFIC (Chief in Charge) AD1 Mike Colhour was the LPO. We didn't have any aircraft, and our working spaces were the inside of the southern checkerboard (Purina Dog Chow) Quonset hut looking hangers. We had a card table (for those endless games of spade) and a ping pong table. Life was good.
In November of 1982 we finally received out first aircraft, a Douglas KA-3D Skywarrior, BUNO 138944, MODEX (sidenumber) GD 220. We started to actually have to WORK for a living. I remember the day when Chief Selke called all of the airmen together and said "we are going to start up a maintenance division and a first Lt. division." Well, I didn't sign on to clean shitters, so I went took the maintenance option. I can still remember the faces of the guys who went to the first LT. division when when the maintenance division went back to playing cards and ping pong, and the first Lt. division started cleaning shitters!!
In January 1983 the powers that be decided that they needed to "really" train some airmen to do their jobs. They asked the airmen in the maintenance division who wanted to be an A-3 or A-7 plane captain. I took the A-3 option, and along with 4 other guys we were on our way to FRAMP, VAQ-33, NAS Key West Florida. The other guys were going to A-7 FRAMP, NAS Lemoore, California.
After many days and nights of doing the "Duvall Crawl" we graduated from FRAMP, and we was "qualified"!! Nothing worse then an airman who knows everything...well, except a LTJG, Navigator, or a "3-P".
We missed the commissioning ceremony for the squadron on March 01, 1983. That was the day that the last A-3 Skywarrior squadron came into existence.