A BIT OF HISTORY: VR-61 History "...VR-61 Islanders transport MCPON - Friday, January 11, 2008..." WebSite: Northwest Navigator http://www.northwestnavigator.com/ [13JAN2008]Circa 2007
Photograph Caption: The pilots and aircrew of JS127 accompanied by MCPON, Joe Campa, center, and Pacific Fleet Master Chief Tom Howard, second fro right, at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.
The aircrew and maintenance personnel of VR-61s detachment team ECHO recently provided transportation for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SW/FMF) Joe Campa and U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW) Tom Howard. They were transported from Camp Lemonier, Djibouti to Kuwait City International Airport. The MCPON was visiting troops deployed during the Christmas holidays in support of Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
The Islanders have been deployed to Bahrain with one McDonnell-Douglas C-9B Skytrain II since late November in support of Central Command and 5th Fleet logistics operations. During the holiday detachment, the Islander team comprised of selected reservists (SELRES) and full time support personnel (FTS) flew over 200 hours in direct support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. They transported several embarked security teams; and also were a vital link in the transportation of over 600 passengers, and 375,000 pounds of high priority cargo.
Most of their missions were in support of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) deployed in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. Additionally, they supported several flights in support of CJTF-HOA.
Despite the Christmas and New Year holiday routines, operational tempo for VR-61 was extremely high and missions were flown on a daily basis. Due to the efforts of the Islander detachment maintenance personnel, a 99 percent mission completion rate was achieved. Missions were flown throughout Europe and the Middle East including: Greece, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Islanders are scheduled to return to NAS Whidbey Island Jan. 14 and will hand over the reins of the Commander Fleet Logistics Support Wing (CFLSW) Bahrain jet detachment to the VR-52 Taskmasters.
© 2008 Sound Publishing, Inc.
A BIT OF HISTORY: Lt. Cmdr. Eric Werner "...VR-61 celebrates 25 years of service - By MC2 Tucker Yates - Fleet PACEN NW - Friday, October 19, 2007..." WebSite: Northwest Navigator http://www.northwestnavigator.com/ index.php/ navigator/ whidbey/ vr_61_celebrates_25_years_of_service/ [20OCT2007]Circa 2006
Photograph Caption: Lt. Cmdr. Eric Werner and Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (AW/NAC) Angela Schoonover look at the history of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 61 during the squadron's 25th anniversary ceremony at NAS Whidbey, Oct. 13.
The Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 61 "Islanders," celebrated 25 years of service at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oct. 13.
VR-61 was commissioned Oct. 16, 1982. Through the years, the squadron has received numerous awards, including the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Unit Commendation, and multiple Battle "E," operational and maintenance awards. The squadron also recently completed 100,000 mishap-free flight hours. Three of the squadron's former commanding officers attended the ceremony.
"I'm big into naval heritage and recognizing the contributions that people have made along the way. Its kind of fun to be part of it," said Roy Seth, commanding officer of VR-61, from 1990-91.
The event involved a display of the history of the squadron in photographs and plaque presentations for notable achievements.
"I love flying with VR-61," said Senior Chief Storekeeper Linda Barnes who received a plaque in recognition of flying 10,000 hours in a DC-9, approximately 10 percent of VR-61's total flight hours. "This has been my career and vocation since I qualified to fly in April 1986, and it just went from there."
Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Recruit Cody Hawthorne, the youngest VR-61 crew member appreciated being able to cut the cake with one of his idols, Master Chief Corpsman (AW/NAC) Connie Piper, the oldest in the squadron.
"I was honored to be selected to take part in the ceremony," said Hawthorne. "Master Chief Piper is and inspiration. Being up there with her was awesome."
Last year VR-61 completed over 17 overseas detachments, flew more than 4,000 hours, and moved over 11,000 people and 690,000 pounds of cargo in support of the global war on terrorism.
Cmdr. Keith Robison, current VR-61 commanding officer is proud of what the squadron has accomplished and the way they handle their business, but still thinks the best days of the squadron are in the future.
"No one takes care of business better than the Islanders," said Robison. "We take care of our mission by focusing on the people we serve, but it doesn't stop there. We take care of our families, we take care of each other, and by dedicating our lives to the service of others, we enrich our own lives and become better people ourselves."
© 2007 Sound Publishing, Inc.
A BIT OF HISTORY: CDR Keith Robison "...VR-61 Islanders hold command change - By Lt. Cmdr. Carl Peecher - Islanders reporter - Friday, May 4, 2007..." WebSite: Northwest Navigator http://www.northwestnavigator.com/ index.php/navigator/ whidbey/vr_61_islanders_hold_command_change/ [04MAY2007]
Cmdr. Todd McKinley will transfer command of the VR-61 Islanders to Cmdr. Keith Robison tomorrow at 2 p.m. in hangar 11, building 2733, on NAS Whidbey Island.
The guest speaker will be Capt. Peter Davenport who flew A-6E Intruders aboard USS Kitty Hawk and completed two deployments, including combat operations over Somalia and Iraq. He was affiliated with VR-61 from 1995 to 1997.
Davenport has logged over 4,000 military flight hours and 450 carrier-arrested landings. He currently serves as Commodore Fleet Logistics Support Wing.
Born in Lansing, Mich., McKinley graduated from Michigan Technological University. He was commissioned in March 1986 and earned his naval Wings of Gold September 1987.
He flew A-6E and EA-6B Intruders and deployed aboard USS Kitty Hawk for their "Around the Horn" cruise.
He has been affiliated with VR-61 Islanders since 1997 and has logged over 5,100 military flight hours.
The Islanders enjoyed a safe and successful 16 months with McKinley at the helm. During his tenure, the Islanders received numerous awards, including the Noel Davis Battle "E," the Holcombe Maintenance Award, the JOSAC Large Unit of the Year, the Congressman Bill Chappell Award for Operations Excellence and the Safety "S" for both 2005 and 2006.
McKinley has follow on orders to Carrier Group 3.
Robison, a native of White Salmon, Wash., graduated from the University of Washington. He was commissioned in 1988 and after earning his naval Wings of Gold in June 1990, flew P-3C Orions in the Pacific theater.
He was selected as a White House Social Aide to the President and represented the Navy at over 45 White House events. He has been affiliated with VR-61 Islanders since 1997 and has logged over 5,200 military flight hours.
© 2007 Sound Publishing, Inc.
A BIT OF HISTORY: VR-61 History "...VR-61 exceeds 100,000 mishap-free flight hours. By Lt. Carl Peecher - Islanders reporter - Friday, December 22, 2006..." WebSite: Northwest Navigator http://www.northwestnavigator.com/index.php/navigator/whidbey/vr_61_exceeds_100000_mishap_free_flight_hours/ [22DEC2006]Circa 2005
Photograph Caption: The Islanders crew, from left, Lt. Cmdr. Jon Ballweber, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Mrachek, Aviation Electrician's Mate Petty Officer 1st Class David Kelly, Aviation Electronics Technician Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery Stastny, Aviation Electronics Technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Russell, Aviation Electronics Technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Thompson and Aviation Electronics Technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Jimenez.
The Fleet Logistic Support Squadron 61 (VR-61) Islanders of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station obtained a safety milestone by reaching 100,000 mishap-free flight hours.
This meaningful safety milestone was crossed Sept. 29, just two days before the Islanders passed 24 years of service. They have maintained an average of 4,200 flight hours per year in direct support of worldwide naval operations.
This safety achievement was completed as one of VR-61's aircraft landed at the previously essential mid-Atlantic base, NAF Keflavic Iceland. After the aircraft was shut down, Detachment Oscar, Officer-In-Charge, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Mrachek marked the squadron's achievement with a crew photo and a heartfelt thank you to the entire squadron for maintaining such a high safety standard.
"100,000 flying hours in 24 years with only three aircraft fully-mission-capable is nothing to scoff at," Mrachek stated. "To accomplish it without a major incident is astounding and is a shining example of how well the Navy's safety and training programs are working."
After a brief celebration, Mrachek and crew continued their mission returning to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, the base of operations for Detachment Oscar.
VR-61 was established Oct. 1, 1982, with two DC-9-31 aircraft. The squadron transitioned to four DC-9-33 aircraft purchased from Iberia Airlines during the mid 1990s. These replacement aircraft added the flexibility of cargo doors and long range tanks which opened the world to the Islanders.
The squadron maintains 268 personnel and a mixed fleet of two DC-9-33 and three C-9B aircraft. All these aircraft have cargo doors and long-range fuel tanks which are actively used to support worldwide rapid movement of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and cargo.
VR-61 maintains a detachment in one of three locations at all times: Atsugi, NAS Sigonella, Sicily or NSA Bahrain, Oman. They are one of only four DC-9/C-9B squadrons in the United States Navy and the only Navy squadron that employs both the DC-9 and C-9B.
Historically, safety is a trademark of VR-61 and is evident in VR-61's recent quartet of awards, including the Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award, the Noel Davis Battle Efficiency Award, the James M. Holcombe Aviation Maintenance Excellence Award and the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center Large Unit of the Year Award.
The squadron's mission is to provide around-the-clock, high-speed transport for the Department of Defense. Whether flying domestically or providing international detachments to the Central Command or Pacific Command, VR-61 fulfills the vital role of fleet support.
During fiscal year 2006, VR-61 flew an astounding 608 missions totaling 4,599 hours, with 1,803 hours in direct support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
In FY-06, VR-61 transported 14,730 passengers, moved 724,781 pounds of high-priority cargo and completed 15 international detachments.
Currently under the watchful eye of its 20th Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Todd McKinley, VR-61 is manned by a total of 48 officers and 220 enlisted, comprised of both active duty and reserve personnel.
"This awesome milestone is a direct result of the superb dedication to duty and attention to detail exuded by the entire Islander team," McKinley said. "I am proud to serve with some of the finest Sailors in the Navy. Thank you, Islanders."
© 2006 Sound Publishing, Inc.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VR-61 wins quartet of awards - By Lt. Darin Twete - Islanders reporter - Friday, July 7, 2006..." WebSite: Northwest Navigator http://www.northwestnavigator.com/index.php/navigator/whidbey/vr_61_wins_quartet_of_awards/ [07JUL2006]
The VR-61 Islanders recently received four prominent awards for their exceptional performance in 2005.
They include the James M. Holcombe Aviation Maintenance Excellence Award, the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center Large Unit of the Year, the Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award and the Noel Davis Battle Efficiency Award.
Operational achievements in 2005 were many and varied for the Islanders. Over 764,000 pounds of high-priority cargo and 20,415 passengers were carried in operations spanning five continents.
The men and women of VR-61 supported 15 detachments and flew over 4,688 flight hours in direct support of Operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
"We are committed to supporting the global war on terrorism and fleet activities around the world and around the clock," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Mrachek, VR-61 operations officer.
The Islanders also responded to victims of Hurricane Katrina within 24 hours of the commencement of relief efforts.
The Islanders' Maintenance Department excelled at maintaining the Navy's only squadron of both DC-9 and C-9B aircraft. Faced with aging aircraft and demanding commitments, the Islanders were able to maintain an 88 percent completion rate and continue their safety record of 23 years and 96,421 hours mishap-free. Their impeccable record helped them receive their seventh Safety "S" award in 11 years.
"Winning any one of these awards is a great accomplishment, but to be the recipient of all four awards is a testament to the individual efforts put forth by the entire Islander team," said Cmdr. Todd McKinley, VR-61 commanding officer.
© 2006 Sound Publishing, Inc.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...//NO1650// - MSGID/GENADMIN/CNO N09F/10A/APR// - SUBJ/CNO ANNUAL AVIATION SAFETY AWARDS// - REF/A/DOC/OPNAVINST 1650.28// - NARR/REF A IS CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS AVIATION-RELATED SAFETY AWARDS// - POC/E. K. THOMPSON/CIV/NAVSAFECEN 10A/LOC:NORFOLK - /TEL:DSN 564-3520 X7226// - GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. PER REF A THE FOLLOWING COMMANDS HAVE BEEN SELECTED AS WINNERS OF THE CALENDAR YEAR 2005 CNO - AVIATION SAFETY AWARD (Few Squadrons Mentioned: VP-10, VP-92, VPU-2, VQ-1, VQ-2 and VX-1)..." WebSite: Safety Center http://safetycenter.navy.mil/awards/CNO_SafetyMsg05.txt [05JUN2006]Circa 1991
A. COMNAVAIRLANTB. COMNAVAIRPACC. COMMARFORCOM
MARINE TRANSPORTATION SQUADRON 1D. COMMARFORPAC
MARINE LIGHT/ATTACK HELICOPTER SQUADRON 167
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 264
MARINE TACTICAL ELECTRONIC WARFARE SQUADRON 1
MARINE FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON 251
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 266
MARINE LIGHT/ATTACK HELICOPTER SQUADRON 269
MARINE FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON 115
MARINE AERIAL REFUELER TRANSPORT SQUADRON 252
MARINE ALL WEATHER FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON 533
MARINE LIGHT ATTACK HELICOPTER SQUADRON 369E. COMNAVAIRFORESF. CG FOURTH MAW
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 364
MARINE HEAVY HELICOPTER SQUADRON 465
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 262
MARINE ALL WEATHER FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON 242
MARINE AERIAL REFUELER TRANSPORT SQUADRON 152
MARINE HEAVY HELICOPTER SQUADRON 363
MARINE HEAVY HELICOPTER SQUADRON 466
MARINE FIGHTER ATTACK TRAINING SQUADRON 101
MARINE ATTACK SQUADRON 211
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER TRAINING SQUADRON 164
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 161
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA
MARINE LIGHT ATTACK HELICOPTER SQUADRON 773G. NATRACOMH. COMNAVAIRSYSCOM
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 774
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 764
MARINE FIGHTER ATTACK SQUADRON 142
MARINE AERIAL REFUELER TRANSPORT SQUADRON 452
AIR TEST AND EVALUATION SQUADRON 202. REQUEST CONTROLLING CUSTODIANS DISSEMINATE INFO TO ALL WINNERS. CITATIONS AND PLAQUES WILL BE FORWARDED TO COGNIZANT CONTROLLING CUSTODIANS FOR PRESENTATION.
3. THESE AWARD WINNERS ARE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO PROFESSIONALISM, SOLID LEADERSHIP AND COMPETENT RISK MANAGEMENT THAT LEAD TO SAFE AND EFFECTIVE OPERATIONS. VERY WELL DONE TO ALL HANDS.//
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Naval Aviation Units Involved in the Persian Gulf War (16 January–27 February 1991)...This Squadron Mentioned...Naval Historical Center ADOBE Download File: http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP29.PDF [27MAY2003]Circa 1986
Persian Gulf War 20KB
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Change-Of-Command - Page 31 - Naval Aviation News - January-February 1986..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1980s/1986/jf86.pdf [19OCT2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...We Deliver - Page 22 to 25 - Naval Aviation News - January-February 1984..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1980s/1984/jf84.pdf [17OCT2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VR-61 History..." http://www.vr61.navy.mil/history.htm [01JUN2002]Circa 1949
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 was established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington on October 1, 1982 with formal commissioning ceremonies held on October 16, 1982. Two DC-9 aircraft had arrived in September of that year, making the squadron "Mission Ready." VR-61 is one of seven C-9/DC-9 reserve force squadrons in the United States Navy. The squadron follows its chain of command through Commander, Fleet Logistics Support Wing, Commander Naval Air Reserve Force, Chief of Naval Reserve, and Chief of Naval Operations.
Manned by a total of 48 officers and 220 enlisted, VR-61 is composed of a mix of active duty and Selected Reserve personnel. The squadron's mission is to provide seven-days-a-week, around-the-clock, high-speed transport for the Department of Defense, often on short notice.
In the fall of 1994, the squadron transitioned to four DC-9-33 aircraft with improved cargo capability, higher payload and greater range. The DC-9 aircraft is ideally suited to the Navy's air logistics mission. Operating at speeds in excess of 500 mph and altitudes up to 37,000 feet, the airplane is capable of carrying 100 passengers (plus 7 crew), 28,000 pounds of cargo, or various combinations of passengers and cargo. The aircraft has an extremely high dispatch reliability rate, due in part to contractor-provided on-site supply support. With that, detachments to the Mediterranean and the Western Pacific have become an integral part of the squadron's mission and have expanded its capability to support the fleet.
VR-61 conducts extensive training programs to ensure the highest degree of proficiency and professionalism among its pilots, aircrew, maintenance and administrative personnel. In the event of mobilization or recall of reserve forces, VR-61 is fully prepared to respond and would perform the same mission it performs on a daily basis throughout the year. The "Islanders" of VR-61 are a prime example of the "One Navy" concept, where a reserve force squadron is fully integrated into fleet service.
Since establishment, VR-61 has compiled over 65,000 mishap-free flight hours and recently received the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the first time it has ever been awarded to a Reserve VR squadron. Other unit awards include two consecutive Noel Davis Battle Efficiency Awards and three CNO Safety Award, the James M. Holcomb Award for maintenance excellence, the Training Excellence Award, consecutive Retention Excellence Awards and the Moran "Readiness through Safety" Award. Additionally, the Naval Reserve Association bestowed the 1998 Congressman Bill Chappell trophy upon VR-61 as the Navy's top C-9 squadron for operational excellence, detachment performance and fiscal efficiency. Mission-oriented, with a rich heritage of operational excellence and an unswerving commitment to its people, VR-61 is proud of completing over 100% of its flight hour program during the past five years and has clearly emerged as the premier squadron in the Fleet Logistics Support Wing.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Minneapolis Reserve Squadrons NAS NAS Glenview, Illinois - Naval Aviation News - March 1949..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1949/mar49.pdf [15JUL2004]
"VR-61 Summary Page"