Cadets Meet a Squadron Alumni Turned U.S. Navy Airborne Electronics Officer

Cadets in front of Growler: After their visit, Deer Valley cadets lined up for a group photo with former cadet Lt. j.g. Tanner Matheny and his instructor. Photo by 2nd Lt. Amber O’Donnell, Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302

Cadets from Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302 were invited to meet squadron alumni Lt. j.g. Tanner Matheny, USN, on September 9, when he and his instructor arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Matheny, who was a cadet at Squadron 302 until he entered the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 2011, is now an electronic warfare officer on the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler.

According to Boeing, manufacturer of the aircraft, “the EA-18G Growler is the most advanced airborne electronic attack platform and is the only one in production today. A variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet, the Growler provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to U.S. military forces and allies around the world.”

Matheny is serving in the Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129), based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Wash. According to the squadron’s website, “VAQ-129 is the Navy’s Fleet Replenishment Squadron for EA-18G Growlers. Serving both the Navy and the U.S. Air Force, the Vikings of VAQ-129 train freshly pinned Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers as well as providing continuing education for Aviators and NFOs who have been to the fleet.”

The former CAP cadet stayed in touch with Deer Valley squadron throughout his time at the Merchant Marine Academy and since joining the Navy, making presentations to the cadets during his school breaks and visits home.

“I had a great time meeting and talking with Civil Air Patrol cadets and, of course, seeing all my friends and family come out to see the Growler,” Matheny wrote in a follow-up email. “I have always wanted to fly into Phoenix. On our way in, we flew over Pleasant Valley and Deer Valley airports. Both of those airports are where I began my civilian flying and being able to fly over them in the Growler really was an emotional moment for me, seeing how flying has benefited me so much. My main talking point to the cadets was to do what makes you happy in life.”