Carrier Air Wing Nine Returns Home

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Portions of Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) returned to Naval Air Station Lemoore following a 7 month around the world deployment on May 16th. The VFA-14 Tophatters (F/A-18E), VFA-41 Black Aces (F/A-18F), VFA-151 Vigilantes (F/A-18E), and VFA-97 Warhawks (F/A-18E), all arrived home to the loving arms of their families and friends who had been awaiting their arrival since the very first day they departed, some even meeting their new children for the very first time.

While deployed aboard the USS John C Stennis, the air wing logged almost 25,000 flight hours conducting combat operations in the Middle East and in support of other operations around the globe.

Air Wing Nine is comprised of three squadrons of F/A-18E Super Hornets, and 1 squadron each of F/A-18F Super Hornets, E/A-18G Growlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, MH-60S Seahawks, and MH-60R Seahawks. Of those eight squadrons, only the strike-fighter contingent is based at NAS Lemoore.

After launching from the ship, the fighters made a short fuel stop at NAS Oceana in Virginia the day prior. They then spent the remainder of that day flying across the country, only to stop for the night at a few different locations in preparation for their homecoming the next morning.

At roughly 0930, the first formation of Super Hornets could be seen on the horizon. Then one squadron at a time, spread out by roughly 30 minutes, they descended upon the base. They flew in impressive 10 and 12-ship formations directly over their respective hangers to the delight and cheers of the friends and families that had gathered together to celebrate their return.

The weather threatened to turn ugly all morning and into the afternoon. But when it counted most, when the aviators taxied in and departed their aircraft, it held off just long enough. The dismounted pilots formed a line abreast as they walked towards the hangers, and their families went rushing out to embrace them. It was an exciting and emotional day for all.

Every single one of us here at Photorecon would like to say WELCOME HOME !!

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Steve Lewis

Steve is a Southern California based photographer living in the Los Angeles area.

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