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Fri, Sep 22, 2006

Last West Coast S-3B Viking Conducts Final Take Off From NASNI

Squadron To Be Disbanded At End Of Month

It's the end of an era, as sailors from the "Shamrocks" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 41 bid farewell recently to their last S-3B Viking as it departed for its final take off from Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI), CA on September 19. VS-41 is the last West coast S-3B Viking squadron.

The disestablisment ceremony for VS-41 was held July 27, but the squad will be officially disbanded September 30.

"It’s a sad feeling sending out our last aircraft," said Cmdr. Derek L. Teachout, executive officer of VS-41. "I had 16-years of experience flying this type of aircraft. Now it’s going away."

VS-41 was commissioned June 30, 1960 and received its first Viking February 20, 1974. Since then, the training squadron has logged more than 347,000 flight hours, made more than 48,000 carrier landings, and has trained more than 35,000 personnel.

According to Teachout, the aircraft were sent to various locations, including museums -- but most were sent to Davis-Mothan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ

The only remaining Viking at NASNI will be taken to Davis-Mothan, where it will be preserved and restored.

"The fact that we’ve done this decommissioning in a safe manner made us proud," said Teachout. "Sailors stayed focused all the way and today marked the very end. It’s exciting that they see the last aircraft leave as closure to their hard work."

The Navy’s plan is to replace the Viking with multiple aircraft, using the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, P-3 Orion, and SH-60 helicopters for future missions.

"I feel relieved that this day has come after preparing for a long time," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kisung Chon. "But at the same time, I feel sad because this is my first command and I had a lot of good memories and good experiences."

For Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Don Salice, even though VS-41 will be disestablished it’s another opportunity for Sailors to move to a new platform, and getting a sea duty billet is a new start for him.

"I feel sad to see our last aircraft leave and the squadron is decommissioning," said Salice. "But we all have a job to do and my job is to be out to sea."

(Aero-News salutes Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Rialyn C. Rodrigo, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific)



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