Military


Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (VMM-262)
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (HMM-262)
"Flying Tigers"

The mission of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (VMM-262) is to provide Assault Support transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment during expeditionary, joint or combined operations. Be prepared for short-notice, worldwide employment in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force operations.

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 was first activated in September 1951 at Cherry Point, North Carolina as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 262 (HMR-262). Although activated during the Korean War, the Squadron remained on the East Coast of the United States, providing helicopter support for the Fleet Marine Force units of that area. In February 1952, the Squadron was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26). During July 1954, the Squadron was relocated to New River, North Carolina, where it remained until 1966.

On 1 February 1962, the Squadron's designation was changed to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (HMM-262). The Squadron participated in numerous amphibious and field exercises in the 1950's and early 1960's, developing the helicopter doctrine that was to be utilized by the United States Marine Corps. This training was put into practice from April through June 1965 when HMM-262 participated in the intervention in Dominican Republic, codenamed Operation Power Pack.

With the intensification of American involvement in the war in Vietnam, HMM-262 was deployed to Vietnam during December 1966 and subsequently reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36 (MAG-36), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The Squadron remained in Vietnam and operated from Ky Ha, Marble Mountain, Quang Tri, Phu Bai, and the USS Tripoli while participating in numerous operations throughout the country.

With the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, HMM-262 relocated to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii during 1971 and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24), 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade. In June 1971, the Squadron was awarded the Commandant's Aviation Efficiency Award for its accomplishments during the preceding year. While stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, HMM-262 provided helicopter support to the 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade, Fleet Marine Force. In December 1976, HMM-262 was designated as the first Hawaii-based helicopter squadron to deploy to the Western Pacific as a composite squadron. The Squadron deployed aboard the USS Tripoli on 17 November and remained the "Cutting Edge" of the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit for the next 8 months.

HMM-262 continued to amass a number of "firsts" over the next few years. In January 1979, the "Cutters" were awarded the highest grade ever achieved (96 percent) under the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation System (MCCRES) for its efforts during the evaluation aboard the USS Belleau Wood. In March 1979, HMM-262, after joining a detachment of 6 AH-1Js, became the first helicopter squadron to deploy aboard the Navy's new class of amphibious assault ship, the USS Tarawa (LHA-1). During July 1979, HMM-262 scored another first by operating jointly off the same flight deck with a detachment of AV-8A Harriers.

On 30 May 1980, the Flying Tigers flew aboard the USS New Orleans (LPH-11) and joined a detachment of 4 AH-1T aircraft from HMA–169 to become a fully composite squadron. The Squadron was tasked to conduct contingency operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf in response to the US hostage crisis in Iran. The Squadron departed on 6 July 1981, for the fourth Western Pacific deployment for the Flying Tigers aboard the USS Okinawa (LPH-3). After conducting an exercise in the Philippines, the Flying Tigers were again called to the Northern Arabian Gulf, this time to support Afghanistan contingency operations. At the conclusion, the squadron conducted a combined exercise with Kenyan forces off Mombasa, Kenya, and Joint/Combined Exercise Kangaroo IV with Australian forces in northeast Australia.

During March and April 1982, HMM-262 converted from CH-46F aircraft to CH-46E aircraft. On 2 July 1982, the Flying Tigers launched 11 CH-46Es that were joined by the arrival of 4 CH-53Ds and 2 UH-1Ns, as the Squadron deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood for its fifth Western Pacific deployment. During this deployment the Squadron again sailed into the Indian Ocean and conducted a combined exercise in Oman. The Squadron also participated in the first visit of US forces, conducting an amphibious exercise and a port visit, to Berbera, Somalia after the departure of Russian forces. October 1982 saw the Flying Tigers participate in Valiant Usher 83-2 in Perth, Australia. The Squadron transported over 2,200 passengers and half a million pounds of external cargo while flying 332 hours in four days.

On 12 August 1983, HMM-262 (Composite) received a combat readiness evaluation of 93 percent, the highest ever awarded to a deploying helicopter unit. The Flying Tigers next joined Detachment A, HMA-169, the final component of the HMM-262 team, aboard the USS Peleliu on 19 September 1983. They arrived at Iwo Jima on 14 October 1983 for Operation Beach Guard 83-1, a dual-pronged surface and air assault.

The Flying Tigers arrived in Pohang, Republic of Korea on 6 January 1984, to participate in Valiant Usher 84-5KS. HMM-262 (Composite), serving as the Air Combat Element for the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit. In July 1984, the Flying Tigers began gearing up for the last shipboard deployment for a Hawaiian-based unit, and on 24 August Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 detachments were joined.

In January 1985, the Flying Tigers took part in a goodwill operation, Operation Handclasp, while at Cubi Point. There they transported 3,600 pounds of books for needy children to Manila International Airport and 13,000 pounds of material to a Philippines leper colony.

During June 1986, the Flying Tigers prepared to join the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. In August 1987, the Flying Tigers began the transition from the CH-46E to the CH- 46E(SR&M). On 3 August 1988, the Flying Tigers once again deployed to the Western Pacific in support of MAG-36 and 1st MAW. During this deployment, the Squadron was designated as the Special Operations Capable (SOC) Squadron for III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Flying Tigers boarded the USS Belleau Wood in March 1990 to become the first Hawaii-based helicopter squadron to deploy aboard ship since 1985. In August 1990, HMM-262 deployed to Okinawa, Japan on UDP and repositioned its flag in September 1990 to NAS Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines, to become the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) in support of MAGTF 4-90. The Squadron participated in emergency flood/earthquake relief efforts and was extended overseas due to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Squadron remained a force-in-readiness in the Philippines before returning to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii on 4 June 1991.

On 12 September 1992, the Flying Tigers once again embarked aboard the USS Belleau Wood and participated in Hurricane Iniki relief efforts on the island of Kauai. On 27 September 1992, the Squadron transferred its home base to Okinawa where it again joined the MAG-36, 1st MAW. This effectively transitioned the Flying Tigers from UDP to permanent change of station status within the Western Pacific to become the first permanently assigned Marine medium helicopter squadron in the region since 1978.

On 24 May 1993, HMM-262 (Reinforced), augmented by its Marine Air Control Group and Marine Wing Support Group detachments, reported to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) for duty as its standing ACE. Two weeks later the Squadron joined its Marine heavy helicopter squadron, Marine light attack helicopter squadron, and Marine attack squadron detachments. HMM-262 (+) deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood as a fully composite ACE from 11 July to 27 September 1993. During this period, the Squadron participated in exercises in the Mariana Islands, Singapore, and Australia as well as off the coast of Okinawa.

On 24 February 1994, HMM-262 (+) became the first Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) ACE to composite twice with different aviation detachments and be successfully certified Special Operations Capable twice within a 6-month period. On 19 July 1994, HMM-262 (+) participated in the Sunset Parade, multiple fly-overs, and static displays in support of the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Guam.

On 19 April 1995, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit was Special Operations Capable certified with the Flying Tigers having become the first Marine Corps squadron to successfully support a Marine Expeditionary Unit for consecutive Special Operations Capable Evaluations (24 months). In June 1995, the Flying Tigers returned to MAG-36 on MCAS Futenma as the Group's standing HMM squadron. The remainder of 1995 and 1996 saw the Flying Tigers participating in multiple exercises, often 2 or 3 simultaneously. The Republic of Korea, Iwakuni and Yokota, Japan, Utaphao and Narathiwat, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore were all hosts to HMM-262.

In April 1997, HMM-262 again assumed the role of the ACE of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Over the next 18 months the Flying Tigers deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood, and participated in exercises Cobra Gold ’97, Foal Eagle ’97, Valiant Usher ’98, Cobra Gold ’98, as well as contingency operation Bevel Incline and 3 Special Operations Capable Certifications. Throughout this period HMM-262 (+) continued its tradition of excellence in Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, and throughout the Western Pacific. On 15 October 1998, HMM-262 was reassigned to MAG-36 to support 1st MAW.

On 15 October 1998, HMM-262 was reassigned to MAG-36 to support 1st MAW operations in the Western Pacific. In December 1998, HMM-262 participated in Exercise Beachcrest, a Joint-Combined CPX with the USAF and the Japanese Self-Defense Force in mainland Japan, followed by Ground/Air Integrated Training (GAIT) in January 1999. The rest of 1999 proved to be an exciting time as the Flying Tigers supported and participated in exercises such as Tandem Thrust 99, Cobra Gold 99, UFL 99, and Crocodile 99.

In January of 2000, HMM-262 was assigned as the ACE of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Over the course of 12 months, the Flying Tigers achieved Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) certification twice and participated in operations Foal Eagle and Cobra Gold ’00. The Squadron was reassigned to MAG-36 in January of 2001 and deployed shortly thereafter to the Republic of the Philippines for Exercise Balikatan ’01. By the 2000s, the mission of Marine HMM-262 was to provide Assault Support transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment during expeditionary, joint or combined operations and be prepared for short-notice, worldwide employment in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations.

Assigned as the ACE of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force in January 2001, HMM-262 (+) deployed aboard the USS Essex and participated in the 57th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Squadron also participated in exercises Foal Eagle 02 and Cobra Gold 02, and completed 2 Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) certification exercises. In October of 2002, HMM-262 (+) sent a detachment of personnel and aircraft aboard the USS Harpers Ferry to the new nation of East Timor for humanitarian assistance operations. As all UDP personnel were frozen in December 2001, the Squadron concluded the year with a “Be Prepared To” order to remain the ACE for the 31st MEU and to prepare for potential contingency operations.

Following the events of 11 September 2001, HMM-262 deployed a 6 aircraft detachment to MCAS Iwakuni in support of the Air Station's force protection and quick reaction force missions. From Iwakuni, the Squadron subsequently deployed to Pohang, Republic of Korea for the Korean Incremental Training Program ‘01.

Within 10 days of receiving official notification that it would remain the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) ACE, the Squadron had recomposited and embarked aboard the USS Essex. During its time at sea the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit fulfilled a variety of forward presence and operational requirements, including participation in exercises Foal Eagle in Korea, Tandem Thrust ’03 in the Marianas, and support for the 58th commemoration ceremony of the Battle of Iwo Jima. During Tandem Thrust, the Squadron participated in the first ever Expeditionary Strike Group experiment. After 18 months as the ACE of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Squadron was reassigned to MAG-36 and was named a Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award winner for calendar year 2002. In 2003 HMM-262 also participated in exercises Ulchi Focus Lens in the Republic of Korea, Crocodile in Australia and Forest Light in Aebano, Japan.

In 2004, the Squadron participated in the Beachcrest CPX, Exercise Balikatan in the Republic of the Philippines, and Exercises Foal Eagle and Ulchi Focus Lens in the Republic of Korea. Additionally the Squadron participated in the MCAS Iwakuni Air Show, supporting the Canadian para-ops team. In December of 2004, HMM-262 deployed to the Philippines as part of Joint Task Force 535 in support of its humanitarian aid and disaster relief mission. In only 9 days of flying, the Squadron delivered over 204,800 pounds of food, water, and supplies to an isolated area that had been devastated by flooding and mudslides resulting from a succession of typhoons.

From January through March of 2005, HMM-262 deployed aboard the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) and the USS Essex (LHD-2) as part of Joint Task Force 536 in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort following the devastation of large segments of the Indian Ocean coastline by tsunamis on 26 December 2004. Operating off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, HMM-262 supported the effort by delivering aid and supplies to the victims of the massive tsunamis. From 14 January to 9 February 2005, the Squadron delivered over 493,755 pounds of food, water, and other supplies to an area that spanned over 120 miles of coastline. At the conclusion of this effort the Squadron was selected to provide helicopter lift on 19-20 February 2005 for former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush during their tour of the tsunami devastated areas of Thailand and Indonesia.

On 30 September 2013, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters from HMM-262 made their final flight from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to await final disposition at Camp Kinser. The CH-46Es were retired to make way for the MV-22B Osprey as part of a one-for-one replacement. HMM-262's CH-46Es were the last of their type in the Marine Corps in Okinawa and in the Pacific and the final flight marked the finalization of the transition for the unit, which was redesignated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (VMM-262).




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