MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Hundreds of Marines gathered to pay homage with their families and say goodbye to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 as they officially completed their sundown after 35 years of supporting operations around the world, in a deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., June 2, 2017.
Tracing their lineage back to Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron One in the 1950’s, VMAQ-4, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, was officially commissioned on Nov. 7, 1981. Originally, the Seahawks flew the EA-6A Electric Intruder and then transitioned to the EA-6B Prowler in the 1990’s.
“I was with VMAQ-4 when it was a newborn and up until its first steps,” said retired Col. James Anderst, VMAQ-4’s first commanding officer. “This is a tough assignment to say goodbye to something so special. This is not a burial, but a wake and a celebration of life.”
The squadron’s mission was to support the Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander by conducting airborne electronic warfare, day or night, under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations.
“VMAQ-4 and its electronic warfare mission have a history of saving lives,” said Anderst. “Each Marine that has ever served in VMAQ-4 has played a critical role in the defense of our nation.”
The Seahawks have been active over the skies of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and most recently, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve.
“It’s about the Marines on the parade deck, in the audience and the Marines who are no longer with us,” said Lt. Col. Paul K. Johnson III, VMAQ-4’s commanding officer. “It is about every Marine who has ever worn our patch and called themselves a Seahawk.”
In conjunction with the sundown of the Prowler, the remaining Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons will be deactivated, one each year, until completion in 2019.
“While we are sad at the loss of a machine,” said Johnson. “The friends, brothers and sisters, squadron mates, and Marines that make up this squadron will go on and that is what we celebrate today.”
In the last two years, VMAQ-4 has supported two Red Flag exercises, two Weapons and Tactics Instructors courses, and a deployment to Turkey in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. VMAQ-4 was also recognized as the Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron of the year for 2016.
“We have finished at the top of our game,” said Johnson. “Ladies and gentlemen, for the last time… the Marines of VMAQ-4.”