Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-773 [HMLA-773]
HMLA-773's lineage begins in June 1968 when then Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 765 (HMM-765) arrived at Naval air Station Atlanta with a 7 officers, 12 enlisted men, and a single Sikorsky UH-34D helicopter. The squadron grew rapidly from this inauspicious beginning and in July of 1971 transitioned from the venerable UH-34 to the bell UH-1E "Huey" utility/gunship. The Squadron was redesignated Marine Light Helicopter Squadron-765 (HML-765). during this period, HML-765 was the lone Marine Helicopter Squadron selected to retain the Gunship mission.
On 1 July 1976 the Squadron received its first single engine AH-1G "Cobra" (now on static display at the NAS Atlanta front gate) and the Squadron was redesignated Marine Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 (HMA-773). In late 1978, HMA-773 transitioned to the twin engine AH-1J "Sea Cobra" which they operated for the next fourteen years.
Throughout the 80's, HMA-773 refined its war fighting skills through myriad training and operational exercises.
In November 1990 the Citizen-Marines of HMA-773 HMA-773 was the first reserve helicopter squadron to be activated and deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm aboard the USS New Orleans and USS Tripoli. The squadron distinguished itself with mine sweeping escort and combat missions during the war. In recognition of their exemplary performance during combat HMA-773 received the Navy Unit Commendation.
In fall of 1992, the squadron received the first eight state of the art AH-1W "Super Cobras". With only a short time to transition to this radically improved weapons platform, HMA-773 embarked on an accelerated training regimen for all pilots and maintenance personnel in order to support two back to back regimental level Enhanced Combined Arms Exercises (ECAX's) at Marine Air Ground Combat center Twentynine Palms, CA.
In November 1993, HMA-773 began receiving UH-1Ns and personnel from the other deactivated units. In October 1994, HMA-773 reorganized and re-equipped with the addition of the UH-1N utility helicopter, pilots, and personnel from HML-776 from Glenview, IL. Now designated as a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron, HMLA-773 fully mirrors the active duty structure to enable rapid a total force integration in the event of future combat operations.
Since reorganizing, the "Red Dogs" of HMLA-773 have deployed on numerous counter narcotic operations throughout the United States and the Caribbean Islands. In May 1995 the Squadron deployed to the island nation of Antigua for the first in a series of "Weedeater" marijuana destruction missions. They have further developed their eradication tactics on the islands of St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad-Tobago, Grenada, and Nassau Bahamas. HMLA-773 missions in the United States have included joint operations with the Army, Coast Guard and several US Law Enforcement Agencies in Kingsville TX, and El Centro CA. In the space of two years, the Red Dogs aided in the destruction of over $20 billion worth of illegal narcotics, including JTF missions in Yuma, AZ and London, KY.
In October 1997, a detachment from the parent squadron was established at NAS JRB Willow Grove, PA consisting of 6 AH-1Ws and 4 UH-1Ns, and assigned to MAG-49.
The squadron deployed with two Cobras (AH-1 Super Cobra) and two Huey's (UH-1), and personnel totalling 60 marines and sailors, including 12 pilots, in March 2002, to Lundamo, Norway, to take part in Battle Griffin, the second phase of NATO exercise Strong Resolve 2002. During Battle Griffin, HMLA-773 was tasked almost exclusively with attack type missions, acting as an escort, providing close air support, and if enemy was spotted, eradicating enemy presence.
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