Screwtops extend Naval Aviation's reach.
During a deployment aboard Enterprise (CVN 65), VAW-123 played a unique role in the Global War on Terrorism. The Screwtops were tasked to support ground combat operations while operating from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The squadron supported special forces elements, logistics evolutions, Army light attack helicopter movements airborne early warning, tanker coordination, and close air support. The requirement to perform these missions over 800 miles away from the flight deck of Enterprise presented a new challenge for the squadron. The squadron used Bagram as a refueling point for its E-2C Hawkeyes. To minimize time in the combat zone, the E-2Cs were only on the ground long enough to refuel, swap crews, and have minor maintenance performed. Each day the aircraft returned to Enterprise where any major maintenance could be performed. VAW-123 also sent maintenance personnel to Bagram to support refueling operations. These sailors and aviators got a taste of life in the field--living in tents, sitting through small arms fire, and dealing with minefields. While this type of detachment may not ever represent a routine way of operating the E-2C, it showcased the far-reaching capabilities of Naval Aviation in the Global War on Terrorism.
Story by LCdr. Kavon Hakimzadeh