From VP-5 Public Affairs
Hanger 511 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville was a little more crowded than usual on Oct. 2. The squadron's final two P-8A Poseidons returned from deployment after having departed in March from Cecil Airport during NAS Jacksonville's runway closure.
Excited spouses, children, family members, friends and fellow "Mad Foxes" watched as the wheels touched down, signaling the end of VP-5's dual-site deployment.
Over the past six months, the Mad Foxes flew more than 280 missions all over the world from bases in southwest Asia and Japan in support of the 5th and 7th fleets.
"The Mad Foxes performance in both the Western Pacific and the Middle East was absolutely phenomenal," said VP-5 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Joe Levy.
"Every Sailor who began deployment with us returned home wearing EAWS wings - 100 percent. There were also zero liberty incidents in a time of unprecedented scrutiny on Sailor behavior. Zero failed missions due to heat or human error, even in extreme desert conditions. And nothing but excellence on station, especially when we got the opportunity to track adversary submarines."
The Mad Foxes traveled to 13 countries in Asia and the South Pacific to include Australia, Brunei, Fiji, Thailand and Singapore. We participated in over 20 exercises to strengthen our relationships with regional partners. In Japan, they participated in airshows in Sapporo, Misawa, and Yokota, fostering good will and community with the Japanese people. In southwest Asia, the Mad Foxes were instrumental during operations to seize a large shipment of weapons being smuggled in open waters. They also participated in many exercises with coalition partners, supporting enhanced training and coordination among units.
For many Mad Foxes, this was their first experience with deployment, and the anticipation of returning home to a loved one's embrace was almost overwhelming. "It was such a great feeling of relief when we landed," said Lt. j.g. Kyle Avocato. "I kept thinking, 'I finally get to see her!'"
For others, this deployment marked another end to life overseas and a return to civilian life. "Just being able to drive my car again is a great feeling," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey Tumelty.
Preparing for homecoming required a coordinated effort from the entire squadron. Maintenance crews worked diligently to make sure all aircraft were mission capable, Administration managed payroll and movement orders, Operations prepared and coordinated the return of personnel and cargo, and flight crews mapped out the route for return flights.
In the final weeks of deployment, Mad Foxes assisted VP-1 and VP-10 with indoctrination flights and briefings at the two deployment sites, while preparing for the transition back to home cycle operations.
Back home at NAS Jacksonville, crews helped prepare the new squadron space, coordinated seven homecoming events along with the Mad Foxes Family Readiness Group, and supported returning Mad Foxes by welcoming them home alongside family and friends at each event.
The final group of Mad Foxes returned Oct. 3, just in time to settle in before Hurricane Matthew.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Long, a father of five, says the best part of returning home is "hearing your kids yell 'daddy' when they come home from school." There might be "No fox like a Mad Fox," but for the foreseeable future, the motto is a little different. These days, there's "No fox like a home fox."
Welcome home, VP-5 Mad Foxes!