OKINAWA, Japan (NNS)  -- The "Golden Eagles" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 concluded a six-month deployment in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) Nov. 24.

The "Skinny Dragons" of VP 4 relieved VP 9 as Commander, Task Group (CTG) 72.2/72.4.

While VP 9 was deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, Cmdr. Dave Whitehead, VP 9 commanding officer, assumed the role as the task group commander and provided direct support in transiting carrier and expeditionary strike groups, maintained a demanding, fast-paced tempo of maritime surveillance missions, supported four search and rescue efforts, and sent detachments throughout the AOR.

In the past six months VP 9 performed and operated in a variety of mission throughout the 7th Fleet AOR.

The squadron took part in Valiant Shield 2010, an integrated joint-training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. forces. VP 9's maintenance team ran the P-3 maintenance effort for the entire exercise and achieved a completion rate that was recognized at the highest levels.

The Golden Eagle team also executed their primary mission sets of maritime patrol reconnaissance (MPR) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW), by providing timely and accurate intelligence for U.S. 7th Fleet, U.S. Pacific Command and the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Aircraft, crews and maintainers assigned to the Golden Eagles supported 12 theater security cooperation engagements, which is built upon old alliances and forging friendships with new partners.

The engagements consisted of extensive training through numerous exercises with Japan and the Republic of Korea, along with Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Republic of the Philippines.

In October, when Typhoon Megi struck the Philippine Islands, VP 9 responded within 24 hours. The Gold Eagles quickly identified the most heavily damaged areas. The CTG sent an aircraft and a detachment of maintainers with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts on the ground, identify property damage, distressed persons, and possible landing zones for aid-bearing helicopters.

Combat Aircrew 8 Tactical Coordinator Lt. Chris Cannon said it was an honor to represent the Navy and the nation in the Republic of the Philippines.

"We are specially equipped for surveillance, and to put our capability to use to save lives and property is tremendously rewarding," Cannon said.

After providing humanitarian aid support in the Philippine Islands, another detachment participated in the final Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise 2010 in late October.

Whitehead and several members of the aircrew delivered a series of briefs to high-ranking Cambodian officials and led a discussion on how MPRA can support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts, and basic maritime domain awareness.

The crew then hosted two Cambodian delegations aboard the aircraft and took their guests on two familiarization flights along the Cambodian coastline.

"Our ops with countries around the Pacific will certainly be the most memorable part of a great deployment; to be the face of America, interact with host nation militaries and empower our partners to better secure their own maritime borders," said Lt. Cmdr. Ed Arnold, patrol plane mission commander. "This has been an awesome opportunity."

Patrol Squadron 9 is homeported aboard Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

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