OAK HARBOR, Washington – The Cougars of Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE NINE (VAQ-139) announce their change of command ceremony that occurred on Jan. 4 onboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Cmdr. Michael Strauss of Toms River relieved Cmdr. Ladislao Montero of Nogales, AZ as Commanding Officer of the Cougars. Capt. Robert Loughran, Commander, Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN presided over the transfer of command.
Cmdr. Montero led the Cougars through a successful seven-month combat deployment to the Western Pacific and North Arabian Gulf. The squadron supported Operations INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) and FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS), operating from USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) with Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN (CVW-17). The Cougars successfully completed 138 combat sorties totaling 993.0 hours while maintaining a remarkable 100 percent combat sortie completion rate.
Under Cmdr. Montero, the Cougars totaled 1,468 sorties and 3,229.9 flight hours. During this time, the squadron was awarded multiple awards to include the Navy’s Aviation Battle Effectiveness Award (Battle “E”) for Pacific Fleet embarked Electronic Attack Squadrons, the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Naval Unit Award for Electronic Warfare, CVW-17 Golden Wrench Maintenance Award, Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Pennant, Chief of Operations Aviation Safety ‘S’, CNAF Blue ‘M’, as well as the Navy Surgeon General’s medical readiness Blue “H” award.
Cmdr. Montero has totaled over 2,500 flight hours and 600 arrested landings during the course of his career in the S-3B, EA-6B and EA-18G as a Naval Flight Officer.
Upon reflection of his time in command, Montero said, “I am honored to have led such a fine team of Sailors, Chiefs, and Officers. The Cougars have continued the tradition of professional and tactical excellence while operating at home and abroad. I am excited for the future of the squadron under the helm of Cmdr. Strauss.”
Upon detaching from VAQ-139, Cmdr. Montero will report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Arlington, VA.
Cmdr. Strauss has accumulated over 1,700 flight hours in eight aircraft and 340 carrier arrested landings, including 50 combat missions. Cmdr. Strauss graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2000, earning a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture. Upon completion of flight training at NAS Pensacola in 2002, Strauss earned his Naval Flight Officer Wings of Gold. He has participated in multiple deployments supporting Operations UNIFIED ASSISTANCE, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. After completion of his joint tour at USCYBERCOM J73 in Fort Meade, MD, Strauss transitioned to the EA-18G and reported to VAQ-139 as Executive Officer in October 2017.
The VAQ-139 Cougars set the pace for all Naval Aviation in 2018. The command built an unprecedented tradition of operational excellence through innovative maintenance, tactical acumen and expert execution that was carried out by each and every member of the team.