USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea - Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), completed their final combat flight operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) this deployment.
Currently deployed with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 since December 2011, CVW-2 launched its first flights in support of OEF in February.
Since then, CVW-2 aircraft have flown more than 2,200 sorties in excess of 13,000 flight hours with a 100 percent completion rate.
"We've been flying missions flawlessly in support of OEF for nearly six months now," said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, CSG-9. "This is the strike group's second deployment in less than two years, and the level of expertise our air wing Sailors have demonstrated over that time is remarkable. I couldn't be more proud of this team for the consistently superb support we've provided our coalition troops on the ground in Afghanistan."
Lt. Cmdr. David Whitmer, a pilot and the operations officer for the Vigilantes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, said the flights CVW-2 squadrons have flown over Afghanistan have been tremendously successful.
"I feel that our mission has significantly contributed to the strategic stability of the region," Whitmer said. "Our close air support provided vital, prepared protection for coalition forces. While it's our turn to go home to our friends and family, our thoughts and prayers go out to those who will continue to stand the watch."
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Charlene Drake said she enjoyed contributing to the success of the OEF mission.
"It's a great feeling knowing that what I do aboard Lincoln could be saving lives in Afghanistan," she said. "I'm glad I had the opportunity to help defend our nation. For the rest of my life, it will be something I can be proud of."
Lincoln is the flagship for CSG 9, which is also comprised of CVW 2, the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9. CSG-9 is currently operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.