Military


Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464 [HMH-464]

HMH-464 was activated at MCAS New River on 1 Mar 1981, tasked to receive and introduce the CH-53E Super Stallion to the FMF. It became the fisrt Marine squadron to receive the first production CH-53 aircraft in mid-1981.

Full Fleet support commenced in 1983 with the first CH-53E detachment joining HMM-162 in support of the Sixth Fleet.

During 1984, the Condors intensified tactical training with emphasis on terrain flight, night vision goggles, aerial refueling, and heavy external lift. The 10,000 mishap-free flight hour mark was attained in Sep 1984.

Following CAX 6/7, HMH-464 attained another first by flying non-stop from Yuma, AZ to New River, NC utilizing aerial refueling to cover a distance of 1870 miles. During 1985, the Squadron provided heavy lift support to HMM-162 at Fort Drum, NY and HMLA-269 at Fort Benning, GA, working closely with the 2d Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Battalion at Fort Benning in both day and night operations, lifting a total of 3.275 million pounds over a four day period. Follow-on operations were conducted at Eglin AFB, FL, including LAV lifts aboard the USS Lexington.

During Aug 1986, HMH-464 experienced the simultaneous deployment of 14 of its 16 aircraft; four aboard Sixth Fleet shipping and 10 to West Coast Air Bases in Yuma, AZ; NAS Fallon, NV; and 29 Palms, CA. During Jan and Feb 1987, the Squadron demonstrated the unique support capability of the CH-53E by establishing Forward Area Refueling Points (FARP) on austere island sites unsuitable for KC-130 operations. The CH-53E's aerial refueled, then ground refueled AH-1 helicopters of HMLA-269 enroute to and from Puerto Rico. HMH-464 externally lifted a UH-1N from a 10,000 foot mountain landing zone in the Dominican Republic. They also participated in Exercise SOLAR FLARE and conducted training deployments to Plattsburg AFB, NY; NAS Fallon, NV; and Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.

In November 1987, HMH-464 once again provided refueling support to HMLA-269 as they deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, conducting external lift operations of 500 gallon fuel bladders to establish a FARP for the AH-1's. The Squadron was proud to be honored by the Marine Corps Aviation Association as the recipient of the Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Trophy for 1987.

During 1988, HMH-464 once again supported a full deployment schedule in addition to its Sixth Fleet commitments. External operations were conducted at Davis-Monthan AFB enroute to CAX 3/4. Aerial refueling and rapid ground refueling were practiced during deployment to NAS Glenview, IL. The Squadron once again participated in exercises at Guantanamo Bay, and provided a mountain training detachment to Plattsburg AFB. In addition, HMH-464 was twice put on Hurricane Relief alert.

During 1989, HMH-464 participated in ALPINE WARRIOR at Volk Field, WI. The Squadron validated the Air Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade concept by deploying six CH-53E's via C-5 aircraft to Bardufoss, Norway. Upon reassembly, the Condors then participated in Exercise COLD WINTER throughout northern Norway, surpassing the 10,000 accident-free flight hour mark while externaling M198's and other FMF equipment in support of the 4thMEB.

In Jan 1990, HMH-464 supported two MEU detachments while the remainder of the Squadron deployed to Volk Field for Exercise ALPINE WARRIOR. The Condors underwent an intensive period of training which included MEDEVAC Alert and a MAGTF Capabilities Exercise (CAPEX). The return of one MEU detachment in May coincided with a Squadron deployment to NAS Key West, FL, for aerial refueling training. When the Iraq invaded Kuwait, HMH-464 stood ready, providing eight CH-53E's and 84 highly trained Marines for the initial deployment to the Persian Gulf on 16 Aug 1990. On 31 Dec 1990, the Condors had staged eight CH-53E's at MCAS Cherry Point, and prepared for their first combat deployment. Arriving in Saudi Arabia just a few weeks before Operation DESERT SHIELD evolved into DESERT STORM, the Squadron played a key role in providing assault support to First Division Marines as they prepared to liberate Kuwait. HMH-464's mobility was tested by three displacements in less than three months. The Condors flew 304 combat sorties, delivered 2,167,150 pounds of cargo, and transported 1,686 passengers.

The Squadron returned from Southwest Asia in May 91 and soon surpassed the 15,000 hour mishap-free milestone and supported CAX, WTI, and MEU missions.

During July, a two aircraft detachment assisted the Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration in ensuring Presidential security by inserting radar surveillance equipment on a small island near President Bush's summer home.

In late summer and early fall of 1991, the Condors supported a CAX and WTI course, while providing aircraft and personnel in support of Joint Task Force Contingency Operations in the Caribbean. As model manager for the CH-53E, the Squadron hosted a NATOPS Review Conference which provided valuable improvements in operations and training to the Fleet.

In early 1992, HMH-464 deployed to Exercise ALPINE WARRIOR, then launched a four aircraft detachment to Norway and Northern Europe aboard the USS Guadalcanal in support of Exercise TEAMWORK 1992. In Sep 1992, the Squadron transferred its first Persian Gulf MEU detachment. In Jan 1993, after Exercise ALPINE WARRIOR, HMH-464 was awarded the 2nd MAW Commanding General's Trophy.

During Apr-May 93, a four aircraft detachment deployed to Puerto Rico aboard the USS Guadalcanal in support of Exercise OCEAN VENTURE, followed by CAPEX, CAX, and WTI support. In Oct 1993 the Condors surpassed the 20,000 flight hour mishap-free milestone. With two detachments assigned to CH-46 squadrons, HMH-464 began 1994 by supporting The Basic School's 9-Day War in Quantico, VA. Following CAPEX 1-94 and WTI 2-94, the Condors led non-combatant evacuation and heliborne assault missions during AGILE PROVIDER 94 in Apr and May. The Squadron provided two aircraft for Fleet Week 94 from 31 May - 8 Jun 1994.

Between Feb and Apr 1995, the Condor's deployed for NATO Exercise STRONG RESOLVE-95 as the Marine Corps' first CH-53E Aviation Combat Element composite squadron. HMH-464(-)(REIN), with CH-46E, AH-1W, UH-1N, and AV-8B attachments, sailed aboard USS WASP (LHD-1) to Norway as part of Second Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). In May 1995, HMH-464's detachment assigned to HMM-263(REIN), 24th MEU(SOC) executed a successful short notice Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) mission that rescued downed F-16C pilot, Capt Scott O'Grady, USAF, from war-torn Bosnia. Between Aug and Oct 1995, HMH-464 simultaneously supported all three East Coast MEU(SOC)s with detachments, a first-time-ever feat by a Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron.

In 1996, HMH-464 supported CAX with a two-plane detachment, as well as the WTI course, in addition to two detachments with the Sixth Fleet. In Apr and May 96, the Condors hosted our British counterparts and participated in Exercise PURPLE STAR with great success. During the summer, extensive ground training was conducted, largely as a result of the grounding of all CH-53's due to faulty bearings within the swashplate assemblies. HMH-464 was the first CH-53E squadron to have all aircraft operational after new swashplate assemblies were received. The Condors stood ready to deploy to Puerto Rico and support the hurricane relief effort by transporting fuel to a critical radar site.

In Feb 1997, HMH-464 launched an aircraft and personnel to support WTI. A 60-plus detachment stood ready to deploy to Merida, Mexico in support of a Presidential visit in Mar and Apr 1997. On 1 Apr, the Condors chopped another 4-plane detachment in support of the Sixth Fleet.

The Squadron's honors include the Navy Unit Commendation Streamer for South West Asia 1990-91, the American Campaign Streamer, the World War II Victory Streamer, the National Defense Service Streamer, and the South West Asia Service Streamer with 3 Bronze Stars.

HMH-464 took part in early 2000 in Operation Eastern Access in Vieques, Puerto Rico, as part of a composite squadron under the flag of HML/A-269.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list