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Records of the early days of the Navy's aerial electronic reconnaissance efforts in the European area are vague. Through research of unit histories, personal interviews, and with some speculation, the following information has been discerned.
In much the same way as in the Pacific, the Navy's dedicated airborne aerial reconnaissance program in Europe had its genesis with patrol squadrons in World ,War Two. It appears that one of these European-based squadrons had a secondary task of electronic recce. At the end of the war, VP-1I4 had a three-plane detachment of Consolidated PB4Y-I Liberators based at NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco. Following the war, until June 1950, the squadron (variously designated VP-HL-6 and finally VP-26, which it carries today) maintained a permanent detachment of PB4Y-2 Privateers at Port Lyautey, while the parent squadron switched between the Moroccan base and NAS Patuxent River, Md.
During this period, the Port Lyautey detachment aircraft were specially configured for the electronic reconnaissance mission, and thus present the earliest traceable origins of VQ-2.
The primary operating areas for the electronic reconnaissance versions of VP-26's "4Y-2"s were the Baltic and Adriatic Seas, with tasking against Soviet radar facilities. The squadron's "electronic" Privateers operated from Port Lyautcy under the guise of acting as courier aircraft for US. embassies and missions throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Western Asia. During one of these Baltic Sea missions occurred the first in a long series of incidents of the "Cold War" involving U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and Sino-Soviet fighters.
The First Unit Forms
Although definitive evidence is sparse, it appears that concurrent with VP-26's departure from Port Lyautey in the summer of 1950, a new unit was formed there utilizing three VP-26 det PB4Y-2s and some operating personnel from the squadron. This organization, designated NAF Patrol Unit, was manned by approximately 70 personnel and was dedicated to the mission of airborne aerial reconnaissance for the European theater.
By 1951 the new unit had replaced its Privateers with four Martin P4M-1Q Mercators, and later added a stripped Lockheed P2V-2 Neptune for pilot training. As covered in part one of this history, the P4M-1Q was a specially configured modified version of the basic P4M-l patrol bomber with two reciprocating and two auxiliary jet engines.
Heading the new unit as OINC was a CDR Larson, with LCDR Peeler as his assistant. An interview with a former P4M-1Q tail gunner, Freeman Dias of Bristol, R.I., indicated CDR Robert R. Sparks, who later served as a commanding officer of VQ-2, relieved CDR Larson as OINC about mid-1953.
Growing out of VW-2 Det Able resources, the airborne electronic reconnaissance assets of that unit were established as Electronic Countermeasures Squadron Two (ECMRon 2) on 1 Sep 1955. ECMRon2, assigned the alpha-numeric designation VQ-2, was homeported at NAF Port Lyautey, with a total complement of 24 officers and 78 enlisted men and CDR Kalin as the first CO.
The squadron initially used the P4M-1Q, and later, the P2V Neptune as mission aircraft. Two models of the Neptune appear in available records, the P2V-3 and the P2V-5F. The single "dash three" was used only for pilot training and logistics. The P2V-5Fs would serve the squadron faithfully in the electronic recce role until the spring of 1960 when they began a phase-out period.
The Arrival of New Assets
The newer and faster carrier-capable A3D-1Q Skywarrior began arriving at VQ-2 in September 1956. During July two VQ-2 pilots had begun familiarization training at Patuxent River and in September ferried the first two Skywarriors to Port Lyautey. Later, on 6 December, the A3D-1Q flew its first operational mission with Skipper Kalin as the pilot.
Update: In 1958 after the loss of two of it's A3D-1Q aircraft the squadron received and operated three A3D aircraft BUNO's 135425, 138943 and 138974, which were used as a trainer/parts hauler some which had some special projects gear installed.**
Indicating the limited number of qualified personnel available for the VQ mission, CDR Sparks returned to the squadron as CO. He served from I July 1957 until 6 October 1958, by which time the squadron had grown to 48 officers and 281 enlisted.
Near the end of Sparks' tenure an interesting article appeared in El Rotando, the Naval Base Rota, Spain, newspaper on 26 September 1958: "One of the U.S. Navy's hottest attack bombers, a twin-jet Douglas A3D Skywarrior, roared down the runway of the Spanish-American naval complex here yesterday morning and was logged as the first jet aircraft to make an operational landing at the growing base. The powerful, near supersonic bomber was piloted here from her home base at Port Lyautey by CDR Robert R. Sparks. The copilot was CDR Clarendon Sigley." Although not stated in the article, the visit to Rota by the VQ-2 CO and XO was probably in conjunction with the upcoming relocation of the squadron from Morocco to Rota.
CDR Sparks was relieved by CDR Sigley in October 1958. After his selection to captain in later years, Robert Sparks was killed in a helicopter accident in Iceland.
The Move to Rota and More New Aircraft
CDR Sigley was at VQ-2's helm during its move to Rota from late 1958 through the first few days of 1959. The move was officially completed 14 January. During the squadron's relocation, five A3D-2Qs were received to replace the less-capable A3D-1Qs. It was not until 14 January 1960, with CDR P.D. Halpin as skipper, that VQ-2 was officially transferred to the joint U.S.-Spanish base. Earlier, on 1 January, the official name of the squadron was changed to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2).
On 26 February the squadron received the first two Lockheed WV-2Q Super Constellations, or, more popularly, "Willie Victors". On 31 March 1960 VQ-2 had an inventory of five A3D-2Q, two WV-2Q, three P2V-5F and two P4M-1Qs. The P2V-5F and P4M-1Q were soon to be phased out. Meanwhile, the newer WV-2Q and A3D-2Q continued to arrive at the squadron. In October 1962 the WV-2Q would be designated EC-12IM and the A3D-2Q became the EA-3B. Regardless of what designation they bore, these Willie Victors, or "Connies", and Skywarriors, or "Whales", would serve the VQ community for many years to come.
VQ-2, now under the command of CDR Arthur G. Elder, soon settled down at its new location and quickly adapted to its replacement aircraft. Meanwhile, the squadron continued its business of airborne electronic reconnaissance in support of the Sixth Fleet and national intelligence collection programs.
The Series of Peacetime Crises Begins
In October 1962, VQ-2 deployed a detachment of aircraft and men to operate from NAS Key West, Fla., in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The electronic intelligence collected by VQ-2 was used to integrate the photography acquired by RF-8s, U-2s and RF-101s into a coherent set of intelligence information to assist in resolving this major superpower confrontation.
An accepted fact of an international crisis is the political and military decision-makers' need for a greater quantity of near real-time intelligence. This important factor lay at the heart of VQ operations in its early days, and continues to do so today. Following the Cuban missile confrontation in 1962 was the Cyprus Crisis of 1964. At the time, CDR R.M. Davis was in command of VQ-2. Afterwards, a series of eastern Mediterranean crises provided ample opportunities for the squadron to collect and provide timely intelligence information to top-level decision-makers.
During the decade of the sixties, VQ-2 operations took on a more direct tactical fleet support role. This role was primarily in response to a rapidly growing and modernizing Soviet Navy which had established a continuous presence in the Mediterranean Sea, concurrent with the Cyprus Crisis. In the years to come, VQ-2 would experience a steady increase in the number of its electronic reconnaissance missions tasked against the Soviet Navy in the Mediterranean and other oceanic areas.
Partly because of the growth of the Soviet Navy as a new factor in the Southern European theater, the first VQ-2 EA-3B detachment went aboard a Mediterranean-based carrier in January 1965, under Skipper CDR C.A. Kiser. Since this initial Whale det embarked in Saratoga (CVA-60), VQ-2 has provided almost continuous electronic reconnaissance support to Sixth Fleet carriers. The first loss of a VQ-2 Skywarrior during carrier operations came 3 November 1966 while the squadron was under the command of CDR J.H. McConnell.
The Vietnam War
It was not only in routine recce operations and in peacetime crisis situations that VQ-2 saw action. There was also a war to be fought. The conflict had heated up in Southeast Asia, and by the autumn of 1965 the U.S. Navy required a degree of electronic recce capacity beyond that available in VQ-l. Consequently, beginning under the tenures of CDRs A.D. Burkett and E.Y. Laney, detachments of VQ-2 EA-3Bs and EC-121Ms were provided to the Pacific theater to conduct electronic reconnaissance in support of Navy combat operations in Vietnam. VQ-2 aircraft initially operated from NAS Cubi Point, the Gulf of Tonkin carriers, and DaNang. After detachment facilities were established at DaNang, VQ-2 EA-3Bs operated almost exclusively from that site with VQ-l aircraft. VQ-2 provided surface-to-air missile (SAM) and MiG threat warning services, which significantly contributed to the survivability of Navy strike aircraft. These VQ-2 assets also provided signals intelligence (Sigint) collection for electronic order of battle (EOB) updating and combat contingency planning.
A Period of Continued Crisis
The decade of the 1970s was frequently punctuated by international crises in VQ-2's theater of operations, especially in the Mediterranean. Notable among these were the 1970 Jordanian Crisis, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1974 crisis in Cyprus and the continuing unrest in Lebanon. These and other situations invariably resulted in the presence of the Sixth Fleet offshore, which in turn required the services of VQ-2 in providing urgently needed tactical intelligence. Under skipper CDR Al Gallotta, VQ-2 received its second Meritorious Unit Commendation for superior electronic reconnaissance operations during the Jordanian Crisis 9 September to 31 October 1970. In part the citation stated: "These units (including VQ-2) contributed significantly to the effectiveness, mobility and success of fleet operations which were vital toward maintaining peace in the Mediterranean."
With the presence of the Sixth Fleet at these crisis situations, came the ever-increasing presence of the Soviet Navy in ADM Gorshkov's new peacetime instrument of foreign policy role. VQ-2 had to split its collection assets to monitor the actions ashore and those of the nearby Soviet naval units in an eyeball-to-eyeball stance with our own Sixth Fleet ships.
Arrival of the EP-3E
The 1970s also brought a vastly improved electronic reconnaissance platform to the VQ squadrons. The aging EC-121M was no longer able to meet the demands of high-tempo fleet reconnaissance missions in the dynamic environment of superpower competition. Consequently, on 31 July 1971 while under CDR J.E. Taylor, VQ-2 received its first Lockheed EP-3E Aries. By 1976 the sixth and final EP-3E had arrived in the squadron, for a total complement of six EA-3Bs, six EP-3Es, a TA-3B which had been acquired in May 1972, and a UP-3A acquired shortly afterwards. The TA-3B and UP-3A were valuable for pilot training and logistics purposes.
VQ-2 was under the command of CDR Jack Taylor from June 1971 to July 1972. While a relative calm was ongoing in the European theater at the time, the significant military hardware buildup in Soviet client states such as Libya, Syria and Egypt drew the majority of the squadron's attention. This buildup would soon erupt into a period of open hostilities between the Arabs and Israelis.
CDR J.D. Meyer became the 18th skipper of VQ-2 on 6 July 1973 and would soon be faced with a period of extremely high-tempo operations associated with the Yom Kippur War that October. For the extremely valuable electronic reconnaissance operations performed by VQ-2 during that conflict, the squadron was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.
Some Historic Firsts
Five more commanding officers led VQ-2 through the decade of the '70s: CDRs D.J. Alberg, D.N. Hagen, T.A. Peltz, G.J. Hopkins and CAPT J.E. Taylor.
CAPT J .E. Taylor, who had commanded VQ-2 June 1971-July 1972, bears the distinction of having commanded VQ-2 on two occasions. CAPT Taylor's second command tour came during October 1978-June 1980. The repeat performance occurred as a direct result of an overall deterioration in the quality of squadron operations and a corresponding need for strong, experienced leadership to overcome a difficult period in VQ-2's history. As an individual who had accumulated a total of four previous tours in the two VQ squadrons, as well as 10,000 flight hours, "CAPT Jack" was the logical choice to put VQ-2 back on track. For the three-week unscheduled turnover period until CAPT Taylor was able to return to Rota, CDR Robert L. Prehn came from CTF-67 staff to fill in as interim commanding officer.
CAPT Taylor and his XO, Tom Fritz, had their hands full re-establishing the unit's performance. However, through strong leadership and the dedication of the men and women of VQ-2, the squadron excelled, and was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period I March 1979 to 1 April 1980. In part, the citation accompanying the MUC read: "During this period, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two consistently displayed outstanding leadership, unparalleled expertise, and untiring dedication in ensuring the success of vital airborne reconnaissance endeavors."
The Frantic 1980s Begin
Satisfied that VQ-2 was back on course, CAPT Taylor relinquished command of the squadron to CDR Tom Fritz, who led VQ-2 from June 1980 until June 1981. As VQ-2 entered the 1980s, with the usual high standards of excellence restored, the squadron would face perhaps its most dynamic and productive period during peacetime operations. The Arab-Israeli situation, the "Crazy Colonel" Gadhafi in the Gulf of Sidra, a crisis in the Baltic involving Poland and the Soviet Union, and the ever-increasing activity level and modernization of the Soviet Navy, all kept the squadron's assets stretched very thin through CDR John Flynn's command tour. In addition to heavy tasking within the European theater, the Iranian Hostage Crisis and increasing tensions in Nicaragua pulled some of VQ-2's already scarce electronic reconnaissance assets out of their primary theater of operations.
UPDATE: In 1980 VQ-2 deployed on an around the world for Operations with two EA-3B's onboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Indian Ocean during the Iranian Crisis. Additonally
VQ-2 had an EP-3E Det located in Diego Garcia**
As VQ-2 entered the mid-1980s, the frenzied pace of operations did not let up. The Arab-Israeli Bekka War, the continuing Beirut Crisis with the U.S. Marine barracks bombing, and the Sixth Fleet December 1983 air strike into Lebanon, allowed little leisure time for the squadron.
VQ-2's high op tempo and extreme professionalism from 1 June 1982 till 31 December 1983 did not go unnoticed. During this period VQ-2 won more unit awards than ever before in its history, including the first ever Battle "E" for a fleet air reconnaissance squadron. Under skipper Don East VQ-2 was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 1 June 1982-31 May 1983 "for meritorious service in connection with airborne reconnaissance in support of Second, Sixth and Seventh Fleet operations." The award citation went on to say: "Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two demonstrated an unprecedented capability to react to contingency requirements in the Atlantic, European and Indian Ocean Theaters. This outstanding performance, during a period of difficult and complex tasking, displayed aggressive enthusiasm and the highest degree of professionalism which made Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two the leader in battle group support and signals intelligence collection."
The second award won by VQ-2 during this 18-month period was the Navy Expeditionary Medal for its crucial role in the 1982 Lebanon Crisis. The squadron was awarded the NEM for the period August-November 1982. Finally, on 29 February 1984, VQ-2 was notified that it was recipient of the Battle "E" for 1983. This period spanned six months each of CDR East and CDR John Draper's CO tours. For this award, VQ-2 competed in the Special Mission category for NavAirLant squadrons.
CDR Draper turned over command of VQ-2 to CDR E.A. Caldwell as the situation in the Mediterranean remained intense through the mid-1980s. Terrorism continued to show its ugly head in the Achille Lauro hijacking incident and the follow-on U.S. Navy force-down of the Egyptian airliner carrying the Arab hijackers to freedom. In short order, these incidents were followed by the Rome and Vienna airport slaughters perpetrated by Arab terrorists and the resulting U.S./Libya confrontation. And so, the need for VQ-2's quick-reaction airborne electronic reconnaissance capabilities continued the ever-increasing spiral while the now 26-year-old EA-3B and 22-year-old EP-3Es struggled to meet the fast-paced demands.
CDR T.L. Hanson assumed command of VQ-2 in January 1986, with CDR Jay R. Kistler as XO, while activity in the Mediterranean remained at a high level. His command tenure began in the midst of the large-scale U.S. Navy operations in the Central Mediterranean off Libya. These operations were a strong message to Gadhafi and his state-sponsored terrorism. During these operations, a muscle-tensing situation developed as a VQ-2 EA-3B, operating from Coral Sea (CV-43), was intercepted by two Libyan MiG-25s 120 miles north of Tripoli. After coming close to the Whale and passing underneath it, the Foxbats left without incident. Interception of U.S. intelligence aircraft is not uncommon and usually passes without incident these days_ But it is never a comfortable situation and the recce crews are always faced with that great uncertainty.
It was VQ-2's operations during crisis situations such as those in the Central Mediterranean, as well as overall superior performance, that led to a second Battle "E" award during this period.
The January 1986 operations in the Central Med would not be the Navy's last encounter with the "Crazy Colonel", however, as two other clashes occurred in late March and mid-April. The first of these began when Sixth Fleet aircraft operating in .international waters of the Gulf of Sidra were fired upon by Libyan SA-5 missiles- During the next 24-hour period at least two Libyan missile patrol boats were destroyed by Navy tactical air and surface combatants, as was the Sirte SA-5 site guidance radar by AGM-88 (HARM) anti-radiation missiles. There were no U.S. losses.
The second period of hostilities occurred in the wake of Libyan terrorist bombings of a Berlin nightclub and a TWA airliner, where U.S. citizens were killed in each case. These Libyan-sponsored terrorist activities drew the military response promised by President Reagan, involving both Sixth Fleet and USAF F-111 assets in a major strike against Al Azziziyah Army Barracks, Tripoli's airport, the port of Sidi Bilal, Al Jumahiriya barracks and Benina Airfield. UPDATE: Note: One of the damaged F-111's with an engine fire warning light landed at VQ-2 and was put in the hangar for repairs, with the assistance of VQ-2 maintenance.
1988-89 CDR Jay KIstler:
1989-90 CDR Thomas Quigley:
1990-91 CDR Raymond Leonard:
UPDATE: In the summer of 1990, the squadron provided electronic reconnaissance during the evacuation of 2000 non-combatant personnel from war-stricken Liberia in operation SHARP EDGE. From August 1990 to April 1991, VQ-2 provided combat reconnaissance during operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, PROVEN FORCE, and PROVIDE COMFORT.
1991-92 CDR Dufree
Since July 1992, VQ-2 has flown in support of Operations DENY FLIGHT, PROVIDE PROMISE, SHARP GUARD, JOINT ENDEAVOR, DECISIVE ENDEAVOR, AND DELIBERATE GUARD providing combat reconnaissance and intelligence to NATO and United Nations forces in the Former Yugoslavia. In March 1997, VQ-2 provided electronic reconnaissance during the evacuation of non-combatant personnel from Albania following unrest from a failed pyramid scheme during operation SILVER WAKE.
1992-1993 CDR Bob Kusuda
1993-1994 CDR Billy Clarke
1994-1995 Larry Holmes
1995-96 John P.Vinson
As of early 1996 VQ-2 had a detachment in Sigonella, Italy, with two aircraft flying combat missions supporting the peacekeeping force in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
1997-98 CDR R. Abernethy
As of 1997 VQ-2 operated four EP-3E Aries II aircraft and two P-3C Orion aircraft from its home-base at Rota and two-plane detachment at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete. The squadron had flown more than 10,000 hours since 1992 as part of Operations Deny Flight, Sharp Guard, Joint Endeavor, Decisive Endeavor, Deliberate Force, Provide Promise and Deliberate Guard.
1998-99 CDR Jim Hamill
1999-2000 CDR Scorby
The New Millennium starts:
2000-2001: CDR Andy Eddowes
2001-2002: CDR Keth May
2002-2003: CDR Kevin Sherman
2005-2006: CDR Grindle
Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron VQ-2 relocated from Rota, Spain, to Whidbey Island, Wash., effective 01 September 2005. The relocation of VQ-2's six aircraft and 450 Sailors to the United States was in keeping with the Navy's ongoing transformation of forces in Europe, and helped reduce costs and eliminate redundancies throughout its force structure worldwide.
The move co-located the squadron with VQ-1, already based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and realized efficiencies through the consolidation of personnel deployment practices, aircraft maintenance practices and air crew training for these unique Navy squadrons. This move is an essential element of Navy transformation in Europe, greatly enhancing overall efficiency and, in the process, improving the operational capabilities of both VQ-1 and VQ-2. Both squadrons were now strategically located together, maximizing their training and readiness posture and their ability to surge worldwide as required.
U.S. NAVY AIRBORNE ELECTRONIC RECONNAISSANCE TODAY AND TOMORROW
Today VQ-1 and VQ-2 continue to produce top quality intelligence collection, while flying some of the oldest aircraft and employing some of the most motivated and professional personnel in the fleet. Like any military organization, the fleet air reconnaissance squadrons recognize people as their principal asset. To identify the unique talents of its officer and enlisted aircrewmen, the VQ squadrons employ the following personnel designation descriptions:
1.Mission Commander- The MC designation is reserved for select pilots and NFOs, who by virtue of their extensive knowledge of the principles of electronic warfare, squadron aircraft operations and crew coordination, have been designated by their commanding officer as the individual ultimately responsible for conduct of the mission. This responsibility makes it imperative that the MC maintain full awareness of every aspect of the intelligence collection mission.
2. Electronic Warfare Aircraft Commander- the EWAC is a pilot with a high degree of maturity, experience, aeronautical skill, ability to perform under stress and a knowledge of electronic warfare. His primary responsibility is to ensure the in flight safety of his aircraft and crew.
3. Electronic Warfare Tactical Evaluator - The EVAL is a Naval Flight Officer tasked to manage the planning, collection and reporting requirements of the mission. The political sensitivities inherent in the various areas of VQ operations require the EVAL to be completely knowledgeable in areas of U.S. and foreign national objectives as well as military strategy and tactics.
4. Electronic Warfare Navigator-the EWAN is an NFO with a complete understanding of several navigation systems as well as a thorough knowledge of the airborne electronic reconnaissance mission.
5. Electronic Warfare Aircrewmen- The backbone of the VQ electronic warfare crew is made up of highly professional enlisted naval aircrewmen. The flight engineers on the EP-3E are usually drawn from the AD, AM and AE ratings. They are responsible for overall airworthiness of the airframe, from preflight through completion of postflight. In the EP-3E, the radioman's position is usually manned by an AT who must be fully knowledgeable of the aircraft communication/navigation systems. The EP-3E Airborne Electronic Supervisor, or "tech", is a senior AT who is responsible for ensuring all the sophisticated electronic warfare equipment is in optimum operating condition. The laboratory or "lab" operator is an airborne electronic warfare analyst whose tasks require a detailed knowledge of the complex analysis and recording systems of the aircraft. The bulk of the VQ naval aircrewmen aboard the EP-3E and EA-3B are designated Electronic Warfare Operators (EWOP). These highly trained technicians master the operations of complex electronic reconnaissance equipment as well as the myriad details of electromagnetic signals of interest.
This history is dedicated to those two hundred men who gave their lives under hostile fire and in aircraft accidents while involved in airborne electronic reconnaissance in the service of their country. Memories of their ultimate sacrifice and dedication will bear the VQ community through the lean years.
"Greater love hath no man, that he give up his life for others."
The Navy has a nucleus of well trained and motivated personnel with which to conduct the airborne electronic reconnaissance mission. These individuals fully understand the significance of Thomas Jefferson's words "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
VQ-2 was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for participation in the 1982 - 1983 Beirut evacuation; operations in the vicinity of Libya, 12 -17 April 1986; and operations in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to February 1991. Four Navy Unit Commendations were awarded to VQ-2 for meritorious service during the Arab-Israeli conflict from October to November 1973, operations near Libya in March-April of 1986, meritorious service during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and meritorious service during the Balkans conflict from January 1992 to February 1994. Four Meritorious Unit Commendations have been awarded for operations conducted in October 1970 during the Jordanian Crisis, March 1979 to April 1980, June 1982 to May 1983, and from August 1983 to November 1985. The squadron also received the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for operations in the Balkans from July 1992 to March 1994. The squadron has been the recipient of COMNAVAIRLANT's Battle "E," as the most effective and operationally efficient special mission squadron for 1983, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996. VQ-2 also received the 1977 CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award, the 1988 COMFAIRMED Silver Anchor Award, the 1991 CINCUSNAVEUR Silver Anchor Award, and the 1987, 1989, 1993, and 1994 CINCUSNAVEUR Golden Anchor Award for excellence in career motivation and retention programs. The Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award was bestowed upon the squadron in 1969 and again in 1993. Finally, the squadron received the Association of Old Crows Award in 1986, 1991, and 1994 for its outstanding contributions and achievements in Electronic Warfare.
Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ- 2) of Naval Station Rota, Spain, completed 50,000 mishap-free flight hours on 21 February 1996, marking a nine-year safety record that began on 20 January 1987. The record included thousands of missions, many in combat conditions, for both the EP-3 and the now retired EA-3 "Whale" carrier-based passive electronic surveillance aircraft. VQ-2 does more missions with fewer aircraft than most other squadrons, so the maintenance and training challenge is formidable. Over the nine years, VQ-2 has responded to every national crisis in the European and Middle Eastern theaters including Operation Sharp Guard (Liberian evacuation), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Provide Comfort, and since July 1993, Bosnian support Operations Provide Promise, Deny Flight, Deliberate Force and Decisive Endeavor.