The loud and distinctive roar of dual Pratt & Whitney J-52 engines at MCAS Cherry Point was consigned to history on March 8 as the longest serving tactical jet in the US Marine Corps inventory — the Grumman EA-6B Prowler — was finally retired, writes James DeBoer in our May issue, currently on sale. Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Two (VMAQ-2), known as the ‘Death Jesters’, was the last of four Marine Prowler squadrons, and had recently completed its final combat deployment in Qatar, with the last six EA-6B in the US inventory. Returning home, the squadron commenced the sundown of this popular type, which has served the Corps for the last four decades.
By the time of the sundown ceremony at Cherry Point on March 8, 2019, three of the last six squadron Prowlers had gone to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG). The remaining three aircraft will join museums and become gate guards on the east coast.
‘It’s surreal and humbling to be the last CO with the great history of our community,’ Lt Col Rundle, the final Prowler CO, told Combat Aircraft. ‘I think the mission of supporting troops on the ground might have kept us around longer than anticipated.’
‘It’s definitely bittersweet to be part of the last Prowler squadron,’ added Erdel. ‘This community, and specifically VMAQ-2, has had a long and proud history with thousands of marines and aircrews that have come before us. It’s a great honor, but sad to see the Prowler go away because I know we made a difference to the guys on the ground every time we flew.’
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