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A P-3C Orion assigned to the “Mad Foxes” of Patrol Squadron Five makes its final approach to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, during routine flight operations.

A P-3C Orion assigned to the “Mad Foxes” of Patrol Squadron Five makes its final approach to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, during routine flight operations. (Jesse L. Paquin / U.S. Navy)

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Sicily — The “Mad Foxes” have traveled from El Salvador to Bahrain to help fight the global war on terror.

The 430 sailors of Patrol Squadron 5 — though based at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla. — are currently flying their four P-3 Orions out of Sigonella during a six-month routine deployment.

The unit’s sailors, such as Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Fox, have been trekking around the world.

Fox, 21, an aviation electrician’s mate, spent about a month-and-a-half at the end of last year in El Salvador maintaining one of the squadron’s aircraft that was aiding the U.S. Coast Guard and El Salvadoran military to track vessels possibly smuggling narcotics.

And while he might not be on the front lines, Fox said, he’s out there making a difference and seeing the world — two reasons why he joined the service more than three years ago.

The squadron got its name in 1948 after being equipped with the first Lockheed P2V Magnetic Anomaly Detector, or MAD — a device that can detect a submerged submarine.

The Sigonella deployment, which started in early December, has some sailors working outside their rates.

Petty Officer 3rd Class David Bergeron, an aviation electronics technician by trade, has taken on the task as the “barracks super.”

“I’m the quality-of-life guy at the barracks, trying to keep everyone happy. If they’re happy there, they’re happy here,” said the 22-year-old sailor during an recent interview at the squadron’s hangar.

No one VP squadron calls Sigonella home, at least not for long. A new one rotates in every six months, providing the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities needed to meet requirements for the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

The reason for the move is that it’s cheaper for the Navy to deploy a squadron from its home base than to pay the permanent change-of-station costs to base sailors and their families at Sigonella, said Navy Capt. Robert Lally, commanding officer of Combined Task Force 67. The deployed squadrons fall under his command.

Deploying to places such as Sigonella can be tough on the squadron’s members, said Cmdr. Sean Cannon, the squadron’s commanding officer.

“Our biggest challenge is that this is not our hangar, and we have to get used to working in someone else’s home,” he said.


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