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NEWS | May 5, 2020

VP-62 Broadarrows mobilize to 7th Fleet for fourth time amid COVID-19

By Lt. Rich Green

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Navy Reserve Patrol Squadron 62 “Broadarrows” on deployment to Commander, 7th Fleet area of operations assumed command of Task Group 72.8, April 8, marking the Reserve unit’s fourth partial mobilization to the region in the past seven years.

“The personal and professional complexity of this particular deployment is not lost on our community's leadership,” said VP-62’s wing commander, Capt. Matthew Pottenburgh, commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11. “The fact that the Broadarrows did this all while mobilizing selected Reservists during a time of global pandemic only shows to the strength of our Maritime Patrol Reserve Force.”

Based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, VP-62 was commissioned in November 1970 and has operated several aircraft variants including the SP-Neptune, P-3AJB Orion, and P-3C Update III.

VP-62 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Tom Kelley, who has been part of the Broadarrows team since 2009 discussed the evolution of the Reserve aviation squadron.

“It has been incredible to see VP Reserve aviation evolve into a unit counted on for mission execution in one of the most important regions of the world,” said Kelley. “VP-62 has been honed into an incredible fighting force over the course of mobilizations in 2013, 2015, 2017 and now in 2020. I am proud of our work that we deliver day in and day out alongside our active-duty counterparts.”

The Broadarrows began flying into theater mid-March and have seamlessly integrated into daily operations. Prior to the task group turnover, VP-62 personnel conducted a 14-day restriction of movement (ROM) and observation period as required by the COVID-19 travel policies. No cases of the virus were reported among the squadron.

Chief Naval Aircrewman Mechanical Joe Luchetti discussed the preparedness of the crew, “Our aircrew were well-prepared to start flying from day one. We quickly understood the pace of operations despite the 14-day ROM periods. Bottom line, we remain healthy and motivated.”

With over 300 Sailors assigned, VP-62 is manned by Full Time Support (FTS), Selective Reservists (SELRES) and a handful of Active Duty personnel. Up to 100 Broadarrows may be forward-deployed at any time providing support across numerous functions including aircrew, operations, safety, maintenance, intelligence, administration, medical and information technology.

“There are lots of complexities — as there are with any aviation squadron,” said Senior Chief Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Raymond Hershey, VP-62 senior enlisted leader. “My expectation is that we are indistinguishable from our active-duty counterparts.”

Despite the push to 7th Fleet, a large part of the squadron remains in Jacksonville preparing to support the long months ahead. According to Cmdr. Katharine Sears, VP-62 executive officer, the rest of the team is focused on maintaining the significant operational planning efforts started in 2018, applying changes, and finding solutions in light of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“We are fortunate to have some of the brightest department heads in naval aviation,” said Sears. “They are able to analyze complex problems and work toward a solution. We depend upon their focus and our Sailors’ execution to be ready to fight tonight.”

Patrol and reconnaissance wings serve as the Navy’s premier provider for airborne anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations. VP-62 is attached to CPRW-11 along with other patrol squadrons including VP-5, VP-8, VP-10, VP-16, VP-26, and VP-45 as well as the Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP-19). There are two Patrol and Reconnaissance Wings in Florida and Washington State, composed of 14 Patrol and Reconnaissance squadrons, one Fleet Replacement Squadron and over 45 subordinate commands.