Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362)
On 30 November 2012, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362) was deactivated following its return from a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. At that time, HMH-362 was the last remaining squadron in the Marine Corps to use the CH-53D helicopter. The Squadron's remaining aircraft were to be retired.
The mission of HMH-362 was to support the MAGTF commander by providing assault support transport of combat troops, supplies, and equipment, day or night, under all-weather conditions during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations.
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362) was first activated on 30 April 1952 as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 362 (HMM-362). The Squadron was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, Air Fleet Marine Force Pacific. The Squadron was reassigned in June 1952 to Marine Aircraft Group 36, Air Fleet Marine Force Pacific. It was reassigned in January 1953 to Marine Aircraft Group 16, Air Fleet Marine Force Pacific. It was, a few months later in July 1953, reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, Air Fleet Marine Force Pacific and again, in September 1955 to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.
The Squadron was redesignated 31 December 1956 as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (Light) 362 and deployed in May 1959 to Yokosuka, Japan, where it was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The Squadron redeployed, in May 1960, to Futenma, Okinawa. The squadron was then relocated in July 1960 to Santa Ana, California, and reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. During July 1961, the Squadron deployed to Futenma, Okinawa, and was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Wing 16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. It was redesignated on 1 February 1962 as Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMM-362). In 1962, HMM-362 was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Archie Clapp and the squadron earned the nickname "Archie’s Angels." It was that nickname that evolved to become the Squadron's subsequent call sign, the "Ugly Angels."
HMM-362 originally flew the Sikorsky UH-34 as a medium lift capable platform and participated in the war in Vietnam from from April 1962 to July 1962 and returned to Vietnam from September 1965 until August 1969. The Squadron was the first Marine aircraft unit to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam. During its second deployment to Vietnam, the Ugly Angels deployed to Soc Trang, Ky Ha, Hue/Phu Bai, and Marble Mountain. The Squadron relocated in August 1969 to New River, North Carolina, and began flying CH-53 helicopters, being redesignated Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362) and reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The Ugly Angels first became familiar with actions in the Middle East when the Squadron participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from January to March 1991. The Squadron also participated in support of Operations Deny Flight, Provide Promise, and Sharp Guard, in Bosnia and the Adriatic Sea from May until August 1993. HMH-362 participated in support of Operation Southern Watch in the Arabian Gulf from June to July 1993. In July 1994, the Ugly Angels participated in support of Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and remained there until October 1994. During July 1995, HMH-362 relocated to Kaneohe Bay Hawaii and was reassigned to Aviation Support Element, Kaneohe (ASEK). ASEK was deactivated in the early 2000s and Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24) reactivated in its place. HMH-362 was reassigned to MAG-24.
In March of 2002, HMH-362 opened a new chapter when it became the first CH-53D squadron from MAG-24 assigned to the Marine Corps' Unit Deployment Program (UDP) at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan for a 6-month period. Upon arrival to the Western Pacific, the Ugly Angels deployed within 48 hours on a 4-month, island-hopping tour known within the First Marine Aircraft Wing as the "Fishhook." During this period, the Ugly Angels flew over 7,100 nautical miles from mainland Japan through the Republic of the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, and Malaysia to Utaphao, Thailand, before redeploying to Iwakuni. The Squadron participated in numerous exercises in 2002, including Balikatan, Cobra Gold, and LF CARAT, as well as planning for possible contingency operations in India and Bangladesh. HMH-362 ended 2002 with a culmination of over 59,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours.
After returning to Kaneohe Bay in 2002, HMH-362 resumed its assault support mission throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In June 2003, the Squadron underwent Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE) at the Pohakoloa Training Area on the Island of Hawaii while supporting the Hawaii Combined Arms Exercise (HCAX) 2003.
In October 2003, HMH-362 once again returned to the Western Pacific in support of the UDP, deploying with 8 CH-53D aircraft to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Over the 6-month period, the Squadron participated in Exercise Talon Vision in November 2003 and Exercise Balikataan in February 2004, both in the Republic of the Philippines. Additionally, the Squadron deployed 2 separate training detachments to the Republic of Korea in January 2004. While in Korea, the Ugly Angels had the opportunity to fly over the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
HMH-362 redeployed to its home station of Kaneohe Bay in April 2004 to resume its assault support mission in the Hawaiian Islands. In July 2004, the Squadron deployed aboard the US Tarawa as the Aviation Combat Element for Special Purpose MAGTF-3 in support of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), a massive naval exercise involving over fifty vessels from seven allied nations. Over 3 weeks at sea the Ugly Angels honed their skills at a number of missions, including non combatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, casualty evacuation, helicopter-borne raids, and amphibious assault. During the year off from deployment HMH-362 supported Exercise Terminal Fury on the islands of Kauai and Oahu.
The Ugly Angels embarked on their third UDP tour in the spring of 2005, spending 6 months aboard MCAS Futenma in Okinawa, Japan. That summer, one-half of the Squadron was attached to the Aviation Combat Element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and participated in the Philippines Bilateral Exercise (PHIBLEX) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. In the November 2005, the Squadron conducted a presidential support mission during which it flew logistical support missions for the Commander-in-Chief's visit to Osaka, Japan. The Squadron's flawless execution of that mission prompted a second presidential support operation in February 2006 in Hyderabad, India.
By the fall of 2006, the Ugly Angels were in full preparation for their upcoming deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2007 marked HMH-362's participation in its first major combat operation since Desert Storm. On 3 April 2007, the Ugly Angels departed MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii for a planned 7-month tour aboard Al Asad air base in western Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08. The Squadron officially assumed their mission following a transfer of authority from HMH-363 on 13 April 2007, and subsequently flew over 380 combat flight hours in the first two weeks in the Al Anbar Province.
The Ugly Angels remained in Iraq for 7 months and returned in November 2007. During the deployment, HMH-362 became the first heavy lift helicopter squadron in Operation Iraqi Freedom to incorporate the "Aeroscout" mission. The Marine Corps Aviation Association honored the "Ugly Angels" by awarding the squadron the Keith B. McCutcheon Award as Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron of the Year.
On 23 January 2009, the Squadron was again deployed to Al Asad Airbase, in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Early into their deployment however their tasking was changed and the Squadron was redeployed to Kandahar International Airport in Afghanistan. The Squadron moved from Kandahar International Airport to operate from Camp Bastion in May and provided assault support as part of Operation Kanjari, a heliborne insert of approximately 4,000 Marines into the heart of Taliban country in the Helmand River Valley. The Squadron returned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii on 18 August 2009, 40 years to the day after receiving their first CH-53. The Squadron did not receive any enemy caused damage throughout the entire deployment.
In early 2010, the Squadron participated in support of Exercise Lava Viper at Pohakuloa Training Area. The Squadron then focused on training toward a fall deployment back to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In August of 2010 the Ugly Angels returned to Camp Bastion Afghanistan. The squadron routinely transported Very Important Persons (VIPs) safely around the operating area. In March 2011, HMH-362 returned to their home in Hawaii.
In early 2012, HMH-362 again deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As of the summer of 2012, the entire USMC inventory of active duty CH-53D Sea Stallions had been retired with the exception of the aircraft forward deployed to Afghanistan with HMH-362. Upon completion of that deployment in the fall of 2012, HMH-362 would deactivate and the remaining aircraft would be retired.
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