USS Harry S. Truman launches final sortie supporting troops in Afghanistan

Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 20, 2014

GULF OF OMAN- Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW-3), embarked on board the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, completed its final sortie in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) on Wednesday.

CVW-3 flew more than 2,900 sorties and more than 16,400 flight hours in support of OEF beginning Aug. 27, 2013.

Lt. Ian Higgins, assigned to the “Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron 32, took part in the final combat sortie, flying an F/A-18F Super Hornet. He flew 27 OEF missions, totaling nearly 170 flight hours.

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Carrier USS Harry S. Truman wins Battle ‘E’

“It has been an honor supporting the troops on the ground,” said Higgins. “Launching our final mission was like any other day, we had to remain focused. Finishing our support of OEF may mean that we are closer to going home, but we still had to make sure the troops on the ground can make it home safely too.”

Capt. George Wikoff, commander of CVW-3, said teamwork was the key to successful OEF operations.

“ “We executed our missions safely and just as we practiced during our pre-deployment exercises. To do that, every Sailor and Marine, every maintainer and every pilot, worked together. That teamwork is what enabled us to provide continuous support to coalition warfighters on the ground in Afghanistan.”

Wikoff said that while teamwork within the air wing was key, teamwork between the air wing and Harry S. Truman was equally as crucial.

“Team Truman was a major reason we were so successful,” he said. “They’re the ones that launch and recover our aircraft and work non-stop to ensure the ship is ready to execute each day’s air plan. Without them, we don’t launch, and the warfighters don’t get the support they need.”

Capt. Bob Roth, Truman’s commanding officer, echoed Wikoff in saying the teamwork between Truman and CVW-3 was the driving force behind successful support for OEF.

“Aircraft carriers are a powerful tool of diplomacy and power projection,” said Roth. “We operated seamlessly with Carrier Air Wing 3 to provide combat air power from the sea. The understanding, respect, and unconditional mutual support between this ship and air wing are what I value above all else. Together, we are unstoppable. This teamwork is what allowed us to support the warfighters on the ground when they needed us to protect them and help them accomplish their mission.”

Truman and CVW-3 are scheduled to be relieved by USS George H.W. Bush and CVW-8 later this month.