Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE SIX was established at Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington on April 6, 1973. In 1978, the Gauntlets flew to their new home in Japan with the USS MIDWAY (CV41) and Carrier Air Wing FIVE. The culmination of a decade of hard work was evident with the Gauntlets being awarded the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency Award (the “E”), and the Safety “S” in 1989.
On January 16,1991 the Gauntlets were the first Prowler squadron to fly a strike against Iraq in support of Operation DESERT STROM. During the 43-day war against Iraq, the Gauntlets flew 466.9 hours in combat and fired 28 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. The Gauntlets successfully suppressed the enemy’s air defenses ensuring that CVW-5 did not lose a single aircraft to enemy fire.
In the spring of 1992, the Gauntlets became the first Prowler squadron to fly in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. For their role in setting up Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the Gauntlets received the Pacific Fleet Battle “E” award for 1992. In addition, the Gauntlets received the Radford Award for being the best EA-6B squadron in the Navy, the association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1994, Gauntlet proficiency resulted in VAQ-136 being named the “Prowler Squadron of the Year for Tactical Excellence”. In January 1998, they received an emergency, no-notice, deployment order to the Arabian Gulf and just fifteen days after receiving the order, the Gauntlets went from holiday routine, to fully carrier-qualified and underway in support of operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Returning to Japan in August 1998, the Gauntlets received the news that they had won the Safety “S” for the first half of 1998, followed, six months later, by receipt of the 1998 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle “E”.
In 1999, the USS KITTY HAWK (CV63) was ordered to the Arabia Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Following 9/11/01, the Gauntlet mission shifted, with the squadron mobilizing to engage in the Global War on Terror. Returning to the Arabian Gulf in 2003, VAQ-136 was among the first to fly in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Gauntlet aircrew flew over 500 hours in 117 combat missions, supporting strike packages, SOF infiltration, and “Kill Box” operations. Gauntlet jamming coupled with 6 HARM ensured no CVW-5 aircraft were lost to enemy fire.
In 2008, VAQ-136 left the Western Pacific with USS KITTY HAWK to cross-deck to the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN73) in San Diego, CA. They returned to Japan on board GEORGE WASHINGTON, which became the first forward-deployed, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. In 2009, the Gauntlets’ two deployments included operations off the Korean peninsula: Exercise TALISMAN SABRE and ANNUALEX. During this time VAQ-136 was selected for the 2009 Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award, 2009 Battle “E” award, 2009 COMVAQWINPAC Maintenance Squadron of the Year award and received two CVW-5 quarterly Golden Wrench Maintenance Award.
Beginning in May of 2010, the Gauntlets conducted two cruises, conducting operations again along the Korean Peninsula and participating in Exercises INVINCIBLE SPIRIT, VALIANT SHIELD, and KEEN SWORD. In February of 2011, the Gauntlets participated in Exercise COPE NORTH.
Shortly afterwards, in March, the squadron conducted a no-notice deployment to Anderson AFB, Guam during Operation TOMODACHI following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The squadron then deployed onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN73) from June through November of 2011.
In January of 2012 the Gauntlets began executing a Home Port Change from Atsugi, Japan to Whidbey Island, Washington, first moving of dependants. The jets, aircrew, and a majority of personnel and equipment followed in February making stops in Wake Island and Hawaii before landing at NAS Whidbey Island.
In February of 2013, the Gauntlets wer dubbed "Safe for Flight" and received their installment of EA-18G Growlers shortly after. The Gauntlets utilized the added capabilities of the Growler during three Fighter/BFM detachments, as well as an international exercise with a multitude of countries at Mountain Home AFB. VAQ-136 settled in to Carrier Air Wing TWO in late 2013 and embarked with the USS RONALD REGAN (CVN76) for the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
After a mini-workup cycle in 2015, the Gauntlets left for the Southern Seas Deployment with Carrier Strike Group NINE and Carrier Air Wing TWO onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN73) in support of the U.S. FOURTH Fleet. While deployed, VAQ-136 participated in Multinational UNITAS PAC and LANT exercises with Peru, Chile and Brazil. The Gauntlets returned in December 2015 as CVN 73 was delivered to Norfolk, VA.
A new workup cycle began for the Gauntlets in March of 2016. Moving with Carrier Air Wing TWO, the Gauntlets embarked with Carrier Strike Group ONE aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN70) for training that included Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA), Air Wing Fallon and Composite Unit Training Exercise (C2X). The Gauntlets departed Naval Air Station North Island in January of 2017 for a Western Pacific Deployment aboard CVN 70, during which they participated in patrols of the South China Sea and FOAL EAGLE, a bilateral exercise with the South Korean armed forces.
Throughout its forty-four year history, VAQ-136 has been committed to excellence, maintaining a prominent position in the Electronic Attack Community. The Gauntlets are proud to continue that commitment and remain dedicated to mission readiness and sailor development.