Reconnaissance veterans celebrate Intruder's 50th anniversary

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 02:05 PM.

Clarence "Catfish" Williams, 73, of Newport, said the aircraft on display was one of the earliest A-6As to be converted into the EA-6 for electronic warfare.

"It’s probably the oldest A-6 that’s still in existence," he said. "I know this is an old son of a gun right here."

Jack Deaton, 84, of Havelock, remembers the early days of electronic warfare squadrons at Cherry Point.

"When it started out, we were all enlisted and they just kept adding people," said Deaton, whose fingertips still burn from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. "I’m the only one that survived this far. Everybody else is out of commission, died or somebody shot ‘em."

Some of the members are concerned that the electronic warfare legacy at Cherry Point will end when the last of the EA-6B Prowler squadrons are deactivated, which is scheduled for 2019.

"It’s going to be pretty lonely around here," said member Mark Bitterlich. "Cherry Point’s going to pretty much be a ghost town when we leave."

Whitten is working on an effort to convince the Marine Corps to extend the life of the EA-6B squadrons.

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