Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-363 [HMH-363]
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-363 [HMH-363], the "Red Lions", was activated on June 2, 1952, at Santa Ana, California and was designated the "Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (MHTS) 363". It was activated as a result of the demands of the Korean War. The squadron was deployed to Vietnam in August 1965 and was involved with numerous operations, which increased in intensity following the Tet Offensive in early 1968. On January 23, 1969, the squadron was redeployed back to California and was designated "Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363" (HMH-363) after having received the Sikorsky CH-53A helicopter.
In October 1972, the squadron was the first unit to receive the powerful CH-53D and was called upon to perform numerous aircraft lifts and internal/external cargo missions. In March 1977, the squadron was selected to participate in the operational evalutation of the USS Tarawa, "LHA-1", the first of the new large and modern amphibious ships. In early 1983, the squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation and deployed to WestPac where it participated in operations at Mount Fuji, Japan and Pohang, Korea.
From 1984-1991, the squadron participated in numerous deployments that included exercises in Okinawa; Korea; Twentynine Palms, California; Mainland Japan; and also provided relief efforts and humanitarian support in the Philippines following a devastating earthquake and flood in 1990. HMH-363 flew countless missions and over 500 flight hours in 3 1/2 weeks, delivering food, clothing, and shelter to inhabitants living in remote areas of the Philippines. The squadron received the Humanitarian Service Medal for its relief effort.
During Desert Shield/Desert Storm, HMH-363 supported the First Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa and returned to California in May 1991, terminating its unit rotations to Okinawa after this eleven month deployment. In December 1992, the squadron participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the outstanding service provided during this four month operation. From April 1993 to July 1996, HMH-363 participated in numerous exercises at Yuma, Arizona; El Centro and Bridgeport, California; Fallon, Nevada and supported Joint Task Force Six at Fort Bliss, Texas.
During August 1996, the squadron relocated to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay and was reassigned to First Marine Aircraft Wing, Aviation Support Element. After relocating to Hawaii under the command of 1st MAW ASEK in September 1996, the RED LIONS re-established their training regimen while providing professional assault support to a myriad of customers. The Marines of HMH-363 continue to meet the challenges presented to them as an assault support squadron of the Fleet Marine Force.
HMH-363's mission is to provide tactical helicopter assault support to Marine Forces in Hawaii and the Pacific. Flying the Sikorsky CH-53D"Sea Stallion" helicopter, we maintain the capability to rapidly deploy throughout the Pacific Region.
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