Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE [HC-1]
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE (HC-1), which was the oldest helicopter squadron in the Navy, was disestablished 29 April 1994 after 46 years of service to the nation.
Helicopter Utility Squadron ONE (HU-1), was established at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1948 as the Navy's first operational helicopter squadron. Shortly thereafter, the squadron was moved to Naval Auxiliary Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California where is achieved operational status. In 1951 HU-1 moved to Naval Auxiliary Air Station Ream Field, Imperial Beach, California. The Squadron was redesignated Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE (as it more accurately described the mission of the command) on July 1, 1965. In 1976 HC-1 was transferred to Naval Air Station North Island.
Since establishment the squadron's primary mission of air-sea rescue remained unchanged. During the Korean Conflict, HU-1's pilots and aircrewmen were among the first into combat and pioneered new techniques of personnel rescue from behind enemy lines; a mission designated as "Combat SAR". For "its extraordinary heroism in action behind enemy lines " HU-1 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. LTJG John Koelsch, one of HU-1's pilots, was decorated with the Nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor for his "extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea." The example he set while in captivity became the basis for the Code of Conduct, the set of standards adopted in 1955 to guide All-American Prisoners of War.
Until 1976, HC-1 was the largest and most active helicopter squadron in the Navy. From Antarctic-bound icebreakers to attack carriers on patrol in the South China Sea, HC-1 covered an extended area encompassing nearly 50 million square miles. As the versatility of the helicopter increased, so did the demands for services. HELSUPPRON ONE accomplished such diversified missions as ice reconnaissance, medical evacuation, logistic support, vertical replenishment, guided missile recovery, photo reconnaissance, ground support with helicopter gunships, National Geographic Surveys, personnel transfers, gunfire spotting, fleet training assistance, mine sweeping, airborne torpedo recovery, and transfer of chaplains throughout the fleet for church services. More notably HC-1 had the privilege of providing services in the recovery of Apollo missions 15, 16, 17 and Skylab missions II, III, IV. Yet, above all, the primary mission of HELSUPPRON ONE was the safeguarding of human life during times of peace and war. The "FLEET ANGLES" of HC-1 amassed over 1679 civilian and military rescues.
In 1967 HELSUPPRON ONE was divided into the following four different squadrons: Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron THREE (gunships) since disestablished, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron THREE (vertical replenishment), Helicopter Combat Support Squadron FIVE (LAMPS Training) since redesignated HSL-31 and subsequently disestablished, and Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (Logistics Support and Combat SAR) since disestablished. In November 1978, HC-1 assumed the mission of helicopter weapons recovery support for Pacific Fleet units engaged in Anti-Submarine readiness training using the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE). In October 1980, HC-1 assumed administrative control of the West Coast SAR Swimmer School.
By the early 1980's, the "FLEET ANGELS" were still flying "so others may live" at North Island. They had an aircraft detachment onboard USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) which provided VIP service for COMSEVENTHFLT flying the Sikorsky SH-3G "Sea King" Helicopter. In 1984 the squadron received two CH-53E "Super Stallions" which brought heavy lift, vertical onboard delivery to the Pacific Fleet for the first time. On the 1st of June 1989, HC-1 assumed the mission of Fleet Replacement Squadron, Fleet Replacement Aircrew training, and Fleet Readiness Aviation Maintenance Personnel for all of the Navy's UH-3 helicopter crews and all of the West Coast H-3 mechanics.
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