Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron VMM-365
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-365 [HMM-365]
In June 1963, The Secretary of the Navy approved the establishment of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (BMM-365). The new helicopter squadron was established at the Marine Corps, Air Facility, Santa Ana, California on I July 1963, equipped with UH-34D (HUS-1) helicopters and was assigned the mission of providing assault transport for cargo and troops of the Fleet Marine Forces during ship-to-shore movements. While at Santa Ana, the Squadron was detached to Marine Aircraft Group 3 6, 3 d Marine Aircraft Wing.
During the later part of 1963, the Squadron trained its flight crews and ground personnel. On 17 November 1963, the Squadron deployed to Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona for a week's training in preparation for its first major exercise.
Early in 1964, FEMA4-365 deployed to Marine Corps Base, Twenty-nine Palms, California to participate in Operation Winter Night, departing Santa Ana on I March and returning 9 March. Two months later, on IO May, the Squadron again deployed to MCAS Yuma for training, returning to its home facilities on 16 May. The Squadron remained packed, and on 24 May deployed south to Camp Pendleton to participate in Operation Pine Tree until 28 May 1964. As a culmination of its year's training, I-EMA4-365 carried out carrier qualifications training aboard the USS IWO JIMA (LPH-9) from 15 - 19 June 1964.
On 29 August, the Squadron's administrative and operational control was shifted to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 1 st Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Marine Corps Air Facility, Futenma, Okinawa. The first contingent of the deploying squadron departed MCAS El Toro, California on 30 August 1964 arrived at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa the following day, enroute to Futenma.
As the Squadron reformed at MAG-16 facilities, a small contingent of 7 officers and 20 enlisted Marines departed Okinawa on 28 September 1964 to reconnoiter the Squadron's new operating facilities in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). On 7 October the Squadron shifted Danang, RVN, from where it operated in support of ground units until 17 February 1965, logging almost 12,000 hours of combat flying time. During this time, FEVB4-365 became the first squadron to employ M-60 machine guns mounted on IJH-34D helicopters. While at Danang in November 1964, the squadron excavated 1700 flood victims in a two day mission despite the Viet Cong harassment fire and flash floods.
On 18 February 1965, FIMM-365 returned to MCAF Futenma, Okinawa. After a short rest the Squadron departed Futenma on 5 March and arrives the same day at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines where it embarked on board the USS PRINCETON (LPH-5). Until 27 April all Squadron was embarked with the Seventh Fleet's Special landing Force on the USS PRIINCETON, during which time it flew some 2200 hours including 200 at night.
On 27 April 1965, the Squadron disembarked from the USS PRIINCETON at Buckner Bay, Okinawa and after a rest at Futenma again shifted to Danang, RVN, on 15 May 1965. Returning to MCAF Futenma on 2 August, Squadron personnel prepared for return to the United States. The Squadron was reduced to zero strength on I September 1965 and the Squadron colors shifted to Maine Aircraft Group 26 at New River, North Carolina. On 2 September, the Squadron joined 19 Marine Officers and 14 enlisted Marines as the rebuilding process began at its new home base. For its service in the Republic of Vietnam HAW-365 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Commendation. During the first half of 1966 the Squadron continued rebuilding, carrying out its training syllabus and supporting 2 Marine Division. After a year's training, FEVB4-365 embarked aboard the USS BOXER (LPH-4) on 13 September 1966 at Onslow Beach and while enroute to Vieques, Puerto Rico as part of CARE3 3-66, conducted day and night carrier qualifications.
After participating in MEBLEX 1-66 on 19 - 20 September, the Squadron was called to conduct Hurricane INEZ relief operations in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, flying a total of 454 hours and 740 sorties while liftin,- 1974 personnel and 186,676 tons of supplies, and evacuating 142 medical patients.
After visiting St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, the Squadron moved ashore at Vieques from 12 - 20 October. from 24 October until 2 November the Squadron's Alpha flight detached operationally to Howard Air Base, Panama Canal Zone to test the feasibility of independent operations. After stops at Jamaica and Roosevelt Roads, the Squadron went ashore at Vieques from 17 November to 2 December 1966. The Squadron again embarked on board the.USS BOXER from 3 - 5 December and participated in LANTFLEX-66 from 6 - 9 December. FE\4M-365 ended its deployment on 15 December 1966, returning to Onslow Beach where it disembarked to its home base at MCAF New River, N.C.
On 28 March 1967, FE\4M-365 received its first CH-46 as the Squadron began its transition to the newer aircraft. On 31 May the Commanding Officer flew the Squadron's 30,000 th accident free hour. By 24 June 1967, FB4M-365 had received its full complement of CH-46D aircraft: the last UH-34D being transferred to NAS Willow Grove on 30 June 1967.
The Squadron continued to train its personnel as well as provide numerous aircraft for missions in support if 2d Marine division and Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, and participated in a variety of VIP lifts, aerial demonstrations, exercise, and static displays. On 13 October 1967, the Squadron was presented the 1967 Chief of Naval Operations Readiness Through Safety Award and on 28 November was further recognized for its achievements when it was presented the 1967 2d Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General's Outstanding Achievement Trophy.
During November 1967, the Squadron prepared for a Caribbean deployment in support of CAREB 3-67, but with the grounding of all MAG-26 CH-46D aircraft, the unit was unable to participate as scheduled. However, FDAM-365 did deploy on CARIB 3-67 on 12 January 1968, returning to MCAF New River on 22 March after accumulating 1,503 accident free flight hours. As the year came to a close, the Squadron accepted it's first CH-46F aircraft on 18 September to begin the transition to the new aircraft. Also, on 22 October FE\B4-365 flew its 40.000th accident free flight hour. The Squadron embarked aboard the USS GUAM (LPH-9) at Morehead City, N.C. on 13 February 1969 for deployment in the Caribbean and participation in CARIB 1-69.
Squadron personnel also took part in OPERATION VERITAS 11, ESCORT TIGER V, and EXOTIC DANCER 11 during this deployment which terminated on 30 June 1969 when the Squadron returned to New River. At the end of July 1969, FE\4M-365 had accumulated 45,703 accident free flight hours. Also, during the month of July the Squadron supported the Naval Reserve Midshipmen at Little Creek Virginia for NARMIDLEX.
BA4M-365 was again recognized for its safety record as the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award For 1969 was presented to the Squadron on 20 November 1969, the same day the Squadron flew its 50,000th accident free flight hour.
As 1969 closed, the Squadron continued its mission of supporting the 2d Marine Division and training pilots and enlisted crewmembers headed for duty in the Republic of Vietnam. As of 31 December 1969, the Squadron had accumulated 50,837 accident free flight hours. In January 1970, BNM-3 65 accepted eight new CH-46F aircraft in preparation for deployment as CARIB 2-70. On 12 February the Squadron was notified that it would be configured for CARIB 2-70 as a composite Squadron of ten CH-46F's, four CH-53D's, and two UH-IE's. On 30 March 1970, UNW-365 became a composited Squadron in preparation for deployment, and on 15 April the Squadron was reinforce with attached personnel. On 13 May the unit embarked on board the USS GUAM with the allocated aircraft.
From 19 - 22 May, BA4M-365 participated in EXOTIC DANCER III as the 32d Marine Expeditionary Unit (32d MEU), comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/2 and BA4M-365, assumed the duty as CARIB 2-70.
On 5 June, the USS GUAM received orders to proceed through the Panama Canal to Chibote, Peru, to bring disaster relief to earthquake victims. The ship, with BA4M-365 aboard, transited the canal on 8 June and arrived off Chimbote on I I June. On the morning of 12 June 1970, the Squadron be-an disaster relief operations for the victims of the worst natural disaster in the history of the southern hemisphere. On 16 June, the US S GUAM moved 80 miles south to a position off the coast of Paramonga, Peru, then moved back to Chimbote on 19 June. The ship, with BIW-365 aboard, departed the Peru area on 25 June enroute to the Caribbean to resume the duties of CARIB 2-70. As June ended the Squadron had raised its total accident free flight hours to 53,020. On I March, 1971 FEVIM-365 was deactivated.
Following over 9 years of inactivity, FINE\4-365 was reactivated on 13 June 1980 and assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, at MCAS(H) New River. The new "Blue Knights" were tasked to accept aircraft, joined and train ground support personnel and aircrews, and to elevate the Squadron to a combat ready unit in the shortest time frame possible. Injust 3 month, fE\4M-365 participated in their first exercise. With a strength on only 9 CH-46 aircraft, 25 officers, and 128 enlisted Marines, FB4M-365 successfully planned and lead BELOEX 1-80, "Frog Wars", the first Group-level aviation training exercise on 22 August 1980. The following month, BA4M-365 established a data base for upgrading aircrew readiness and Disaster Relief Contingency Force Preparedness by conducting Atlantic Field Gunnery and Disaster Relief Exercise, FIREVAL 1-80, from 15 - 18 September.
During the remaining months of 1980, FE\4M-365 participated in BELOEX 2-80 on 26 September and BELOEX 1-81 on 31 October 1980. On 26 November FE\E\4-365 planned, coordinated and lead HELOEX2-81. The Blue Knights embarked for PHEBREFTRA8-80 aboard the USS GUAM on 12 - 15 December.
In February 1981 BA4M-365 deployed 3 aircraft to MCAS Yuma, Arizona for the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI). From Yuma, the detachment proceeded to MCAGCC Twenty-nine Palms to participate in a Combined Arms Exercise (CAX). Detachments from FE\4LA- 1 67 and BNM-461 joined BAM-3 65 on 24 July in preparation for deployment aboard the USS GUAM on 31 July. The Squadron had been configured as a composite Squadron for its role as the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the 38th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), during OCEAN VENTURE 8 1.
October 1981 saw FD@Ml-365 at Camp Merill, Mosby, Georgia. A six aircraft detachment was sent to Camp Mosby on 24 October 1981 for mountain area training. There, FEVM4-365 was able to support Army Ranger Candidate training until returning to MCAS New River on 30 October 1981.
In December of 1981 and the first 5 months of 1982, fIMM-365 participated in several local operations. During AVELEX I- 8 2 BAM-3 6 5 planned and led one of the three maj or assaults into the Camp Lejeune area. From 17 - 19 March BAM-365 participated in AVELEX 2 - 82. The Squadron stood MEDEVAC for 3d Battalion, 8th Marines during the LIVEX portion of the AVELEX. In March and May FINE\4-365 took part in the LZ Bluebird Helo Assault Demonstrations for foreign Dignitaries and the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, (JCOC). In addition BA4M-3 65 deployed four aircraft to Northern Norway for ALLOY EXPRESS from December through April 1982.
On I June FDAM-365 deployed four aircraft in CAX 7-82 from 7-23 June. In support of the CAX, HA4M-365's aircraft flew day and night troop missions and recon inserts and extracts. The aircraft returned safely to MCAS New River on 16 July 1982. As 1982 closed BA4M-365 focused all activity toward preparing for Exercise COLD WINTER 83 in Northern Norway. On 15 October BA4M-365 became the ACE of the 26th MAU. The Squadron was to become a composite Squadron consisting of 9 CH-46, 6 UH-IN, and 4 CH-53A aircraft for the upcoming exercise. On 30 November, a detachment from BA4M-365 deployed with four CH-46E and two UH- IN aircraft to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, for Exercise COLD WINTER 83.
On I February 1983 B3AN4-365 (Rein) embarked aboard the USS GUAM at Morehead City. The US S GUAM made a port visit at Portsmouth, England, before sailing to Sorresia, Norway, for off-loading on 24 February. I-EVB4-365 was shore based at Cardufoss Airfield, Norway, until 9 March at which time the Squadron backloaded aboard the USS GUAM to participate in Exercise COLD WINTER 83 from 10 - 17 March. Before returning to CONUS the Squadron enjoyed liberty call at Hamburg, Germany, and Rota, Spain. During the return voyage engineers and test pilots coordinated with fPvIM-365 to conduct Dynamic Interface tests for expanding the engage, disengage, and landing wind envelopes of the CH-46E. On 18 April 1983 BA4M-365 (Rein) arrived safely at MCAS(H) New River. The Squadron, having flown over 1,500 hours while carrying 6,200 passengers and liffing 1,500,000 pounds of cargo, was recognized for "Superior Performance" by the Commanding General, FMFLant.
On 20 May 1983 FINW-365 joined MAG-29 from NlAG-26 as part of the reconfiguration of the two Groups to Mirror Image Groups. Immediately after joining MAG-29 the Squadron successfully completed a Marine corps Combat Readiness Evaluation System (MCCRES) Inspection.
July of 1983 found FIMM-365 deploying again, sending a detachment of sic CH-46's and two UH-lN's aboard the USS NASSAU (LHA-4) to participate in SACEX 83, a live fore exercise held at Vieques, Puerto Rico. Deployed from 19 July to I August the Squadron flew 240 hours and completed several training goals to include day and night carrier qualifications for all pilots and copilots.
FIMM-365 opened 1984 conducting extensive flight training to increase aircrew combat readiness. A detachment of six aircraft flew to Dobbins AFB for mountain area training at Camp Frank D. Merril, Mosby, Georgia. In February I-INIM-3 65 worked closely with I st Battalion 6th Marines on planning and rehearsing Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations to be tested during OCEAN VENTURE 84.
FINE\4-365 joined four UH-IN's and two CH-53's to become the composite ACE of the 26th MAU on 20 April. Four days later, I-EvE\4-365 (Rein) embarked 18 aircraft and 212 personnel aboard the USS IWO JE\4A to participate in OCEAN VENTURE 84 forjoint service reaction/contingency operations in the Caribbean. At 2015 on 24 April, FINM-365 flew it 70,000th accident free flight hour at NAS Cecil Field.
From January to June 1985, BNIA4-365 flew six actual MedEvacs. During this time period FE\4N4-365 transported a total of 8,295 passengers and 772,731 pounds of cargo. In January a detachment of 6 aircraft flew to Wheeler Sacks ASF, Fort Drum, New York, for cod weather training in both ground and air operations. On I March 1985 BA4M-365 (Rein) reported as the ACE of the 26th MAU and from 16 April to 17 May 1985 the Squadron deployed aboard the USS NASSAU with twelve CH-46E's, four UH-l's, four AH-l's and four CH-53's for UNIVERSAL TREK and SOLID SHIELD 85. A variety of missions were flown in support of the United States Army and Honduran Army during UNIVERSAL TREK in addition to the required missions for the 26 MAU. In June BA4M-365 successfully completed its MCCRES.
FEvll\4-365's designations as the ACE for the Amphibious Ready Force (ARF) on I January continued through 30 June 1985.
From June to December 1985 BMM-365 flew six actual MedEvacs and transported a total of 8,033 passengers and 230,010 pounds of cargo. On 14 August FEvIA4-365 departed MCAS New River for deployment to Camp Wilson, Twenty-nine Palms, California in support of the CAX 9/10-85. During this transcontinental flight of twelve CH-46E helicopters, BAIM-365 accomplished a first in Marine Corps Aviation History - BNE\4-365 became the first tactical helicopter squadron to fly 75,000 mishap free flight hours. On 18 August fR@B4-365's twelve Sea Knight Helicopters arrived for the overhead break at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms. While participating in the desert exercises of CAX 9/10-85 BNM-365 maintained an aircraft readiness/availability rate of 87.2 free flight hours in just over a thirty day period from 1 8 August to 24 September 1985. At the completion of CAX 10-85, nine BAM-365 aircraft and the majority of its maintenance department were flown to Marine Aviation Weapons and tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) at MCAS Yuma, to support WTI 1-86, while the three remaining aircraft returned to MCAS New River. This evolution was a rigorous test of the Squadron's capabilities since it not only supported a mishap free WTI class at MCAS Yuma, but also a daily flight schedule at MCAS New River with a nominal maintenance crew. On 5 November the remaining nine aircraft from MCAS Yuma returned safely.
From January to June 1986 FE\B4-365 transported a total of 4,836 passengers, 125,069 pounds of cargo, and flew eleven actual MedEvacs from local hospitals to facilities in central North Carolina and eastern Virginia. On 12 February 1986, the Squadron deployed to Volk Air National Guard Field, Wisconsin, in support of ALPINE WARRIOR 1-86. While deployed, the corporate knowledge of the Squadron, gained from previous cold weather training, proved invaluable. During the exercise, ten CH-46E helicopters supported the Regimental Landing Team Two (RLT-2) with command and control aircraft, recon team inserts/extracts, and an eight aircraft retrograde lift, as well as routine supply/logistics missions. For the remainder of the period the Squadron supported various Navy and Marine Corps units. Some of the units supported were: I st Battalion 8th Marines, I st and 3rd Battalion 6th Marines, Range Control, MCB Camp Lejeune, 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Sensor Control and Management Platoon (SCAMP), 2d Landing Support Battalion and 2d and 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Companies (ANGLICO). Among the numerous training schools supported were: Amphibious Warfare Training Unit One (AWTU-1), Aerial Observers School, Amphibious Recon School, NIAG-29 Aerial Gunnery School, and the Marine Corps Engineering School. The Squadron also supported the USS GUAM, the USS SPARTANBURG COUNTY and the USS RALIEGH. In addition to ALPINE WARRIOR 1-86, the Squadron participated in two Bluebird Demonstrations, COMBAT CAROLINA, and special operations training in Stewart, New York.
In the remainder of 1986, FPvIA4-365 transported 3,239 passengers, 70,470 pounds of cargo and flew twelve actual MedEvaes from local hospitals to facilities in North Carolina and Virginia. The Squadron was tasked with a wide variety of missions fro various Navy and Marine Corps units as well as civilian sectors. Among the units supported were: Marine Corps Aviation Association, FNWLant, 2d Marine Division, I st and 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, I st Battalion, 6th Marines, I st and 3d Battalions, 8th Marines, SCANT, 2d Tank Battalion, ITS, 2d FSSG, 2d and 4th ANGLICO'S, 2d Force Recon, Arctic Warfare Training Group, 11 NIA-F, MCB Camp Lejeune, Engineering Training Battalion, Range Control, Aerial Observers School, LFTCLant, U. S. Naval Academy. Among the ships supported by Squadron aircraft were the USS NASHVIILLE, USS WFUDBEY ISLAND and the SS KOCAK. At 0814 on 2 December 1986, the Squadron logged its 80,000th accident free flight hour. During the period 3 - 10 December 1986 the Squadron deployed to MCHOLF Oak Grove for exercise Beechwood 1-87. During the exercise twelve CH-46E helicopters provided assault support with tactical trooplifts, supply, and NMDEVAC missions.
The year 1987 began a period of furious activity and tasking requirements. On 8 January twelve CH-46E helicopters arrived at Twentynine Palms in support of CAX 3/4-87. During the next 40 days the Squadron transported over 2,200 Marines and more than 48,000 pounds of cargo in various types of missions including day and night tactical inserts and extracts, combat SAR, recon team and tank killer team deployment, combat resupply as well as the final retrogrades of both exercises. While fully supporting the CAX'S, FE\4N4-365 concurrently supported two Bridgeport Mountain Warfare Training Courses with a Detachment of four aircraft, which in 35 days lifted over 2,400 combat Marines and 27,000 pounds of cargo in Arctic conditions at high altitudes.
At the conclusion of CAX 3/4-87 eight aircraft immediately deployed to MCAS Yuma in support of WTI 2-87. In just over one month the Squadron aircraft logged in excess of 780 accident free flight hours with an availability rate of 93.6
The four remaining aircraft, at the conclusion of the second Bridgeport course on 28 February, successfully returned to MCAS New River to begin the workup for SOLID SFITELD- 87. Less than I month after the recovery of the 8 CH-46E's from MCAS Yuma, BA4M-365 (Rein) embarked aboard the US S GUAM from 29 April - 5 May 1987 with ten CH-46E's, four CH-53D's four AH-IJ's and 3 UH-IN's. SOLID SHIELD-87 concluded with 4 days of expeditionary operations from MCALF Bouge Field from 5 - 8 May 1987.
On 18 May 1987 and after four months of Squadron deployments, BAM-365 had logged 82,25 5.5 accident free flight hours. The Squadron spent the rest of May and majority of June concentrating on Squadron training in the local flying area. One (1) actual MEDEVAC was flown from the Navy Regional Medical Center (NRMC), Camp Lejeune, to Duke University.
During the period 24 - 28 July 1987, the squadron took part in Solar Flare 87. During the exercise the Squadron provided assault support to 23d Marines and 4th MAB, coordinating all helo/OV-10 operations at New River as MAG-14 (Forward). The Squadron flew tactical troop lifts, external cargo operations, and actual NMDEVAC. During Solar Flare 87, the Squadron flew 61.1 hours, 273 passengers and 8,000 pounds of cargo.
From I I - 1 6 August, FEMA4-3 65 (Rein) embarked aboard to take part in its Amphibious Refresher Training (PHIBREFTRA). While aboard the Squadron provided the USS IWO JIMA with the assets required to exercise and test all of its capabilities by using Detachments of HMLA- 1 67 and FDvIH-461 aircraft.
During the period of June through August the Squadron flew a total of 1, 144.9 hours, transporting 2,894 passengers and 56,900 pounds of cargo.
On I September 1987 FDAM-365 went composite for the 26th MAU joining four (4) CH-53E's four (4) AH-IT's and three (3) LTH-IN's inpreparation for its upcoming role as the special Operations Capable Aviation Combat Element (ACE) for the Landing Force Sixth Fleet (LF6F) 1-88 deployment. The month of September was spent concentrating on Phase I Squadron training as all of the new elements started to integrate. Particular attention was paid to gaining and honing the skills required for shipboard operations.
During the first half of October the Squadron began Phase 11 Special Operations training with other elements of 26th MAU. The training included FARPEX's and aerial refueling with KC-130's, fastroping, SPIE rigging, and HALO parachute operations with 2d ANGLICO, 2d Force Recon, and 2d Recon Battalion. During the period 18 October through I November 1987 FDAM-365 deployed a Detachment to Suffolk County Airport, New York to conduct Tactical Reconnaissance in a Urban Environment (TRLTE) training. The Detachment consisted of two (2) CH-46E's, one (1) CH-53E, three (3) LTH-lN's. In addition to the TRUE Detachment, the Squadron continued operations at MCAS New River.
During the month of November the Squadron's major emphasis was on continued integrated training with other elements of 26th MAU in preparation for its upcoming MAUEX and MCCRES.
From I - 6 December 1987 the Squadron embarked six (6) CH-46E's two (2) CH-53E's, three (3) AH-IT's and one (1) UH-IN onto USS IWO JIAIA to take part in the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit Exercise and its own Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation. As part of the MALTEX/MCCRES the Squadron conducted multiple helicopterbome assaults culminating 8 December 1987 with a long range raid and airfield seizure at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. From 16-18 December the Squadron deployed a detachment of two (2) CH-46E's and two (2) UH- IN's to NAS Norfolk in support of Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) training.
During the period of September through December the Squadron flew a total of 2247.9 flight hours, transporting 3,538 passengers and 257,580 pounds of cargo in preparing for its upcoming LF6F deployment. On 31 December 1987 the Squadron reached 35,754.6 flight hours without a major accident over a fifteen year period.
On 9 January 1988 the Squadron began Phase III and embarked eleven (I 1) of CH-46E's, four (4) CH-53E's, four (4) AH- I T's, three (3) UH- IN's aboard the USS IWO JI[MA for Blue/Green Water Workups in preparation for its upcoming LF6F deployment. The USS IWO JENIA then transited to the Vieques range area in Puerto Rico. From 13 - 27 January the Squadron conducted numerous assault support operations in conjunction with other 26th NMU elements. The Squadron then made the transit north to Onslow Bay where it culminated the workup with an NVG airfield seizure/NEO during its Special Operations Capable Exercise (SOCEX) I. During its workup period the Squadron flew 716.3 hours, transporting 2,768 passengers and 241,200 pounds of cargo.
In February the Squadron conducted extensive NVG training in preparation for SOCEX 11. This culminated on 9 February with the Squadron conducting an NVG airfield seizure exercise at over I 00 nautical miles range at Mackell AAF under starlight conditions, employing KC- 13 0 and AV-8B aircraft to support the extended ground operations. On March 1988 the Squadron embarked all its helicopters aboard the USS IWO GUAM for its LF6F 1-88 deployment.
From 16 - 22 March took part in a Spanish Phiblex at Sierra Del Retin. The Squadron provided transport for and cross training with TEAR Company, Spanish Marines. During the exercise the Squadron flew 38 1.0 hours, transporting 2,070 passengers and 184,000 pounds of cargo. On 22 March the USS IWO JEQA transited the Straits of Gibraltar an entered the Mediterranean Sea headed toward Palma, Mallorca, for a port visit from 25 March to 5 April 1988. While the ship was in port the Squadron conducted NVG flight operations from base Aerea de Son San Juan.
After departing Palma, the USS IWO JIMA steamed toward Monte Romano/Pian de Spille, for a Italian Phiblex. The Phiblex lasted from 7 -13 April. During the exercise the Squadron lifted the Italian Alpini Company from Rome to the MARG. The Squadron also conducted a night backload of Battalion landing Team 1/8. In total the Squadron flew 423.1 hours, transporting 2,659 passengers and 513,000 pounds of cargo.
On 14 April the Squadron flew a Detachment of six (6) CH-46E's, two (2) CH-53E's, two (2) AH- I T's, two (2) UH- IN's to NAS Sigonella. The Detachment conducted extensive night/NVG training for the period 14 - 26 April, while the USS IWO JIMA was in port at La Spezia and Naples. The Squadron recovered the Sigonella Detachment on 25 April. From 1-7 May the squadron participated in NATO Exercise Dragon Hammer 88 at Capo Tuelada Sardinia. Durin- this operation the Squadron conducted cross training with French and British aviation units. The Squadron also lifted French, British, Dutch, and Italian troops. Integrated into this operation were the Squadron's CONUS based KC-130 and AV-8B Detachments from VMGR-252 and VMA-542 as well as the first OV-IOD Detachment in the Mediterranean from VMO- I. In total the Squadron flew 457.7 hours, transporting 2,395 passengers and 378,500 pounds of cargo.
From 9-29 May the Squadron deployed eight (8) CH-46's three (3) CH-53's. three (3) AH-IT's, and two (2) UH-IN's at Camp de Canjuers. France. During this period the Squadron began to developed CH-53E fastrope procedures. The Squadron also conducted a MAGTF demonstration for SECNAV, COMSIXTBFLT and CG 2d FSSG. On 28 May, the Squadron's CH-46E's were grounded for DCB 29, eight aircraft were in Canjuers at that time. By I June, all aircraft had been disassembled and inspected in the field, tested, and flown back on board USS IWO JIMA. While deployed at Camp de Canjuers the Squadron flew 395.0 hours, transporting 1,811 passengers and 417,200 pounds of cargo.
On I June 1988 the squadron stood at a total of 89,297.6 flight hours without a major accident after having numerous high tempo, amphibious exercises in the first half of 1988.
Two (2) FIMM-365 (Rein) detachments, one consisting of four (4) CH-46E's aboard the USS POUNCE (Det B) and other, two (2) CH-53E's at NAF Capodichino (Det C) conducted helicopterbome training from 30 June to 12 July 1988. Det B returned to the US S IWO JIMA on 12 July. and the USS IWO JINIA sailed from Monts Carlo to Haita, Israel from 15-21 July. On 24 July, six (6) CH-46E's, two (2) CH-53E's three (3) AH-IT's and two (2) UH-IN's were based at Haifa Air Base (HAB), while Det C repositioned from NAF Capodichino, Italy to NAS Sigonella, Sicily. On 29 July 1988, Maj Melvin W De Mars assumed command of FEMA4-365 (Rein) from LtCol Robert Magnus onboard US S IWO JIMA. All aircraft based at Haifa were flown aboard the USS IWO JIMA on August 1988.
The transit to Rota, Spain began on 8 August 1988. The two (2) CH-53E's of Det C were flown aboard the US S IWO JEVIA as it passed Sicily on 12 August. The Bluewater turnover with BA4M-261 (Rein) and 24 MEU (SOC) was conducted on 16 August, and the TRANSLANT began 17 August. The Squadron offload its aircraft and personnel at MCAS New River on 28 August 1988.
During LF6F 1-88 (I March - 28 August 1988), FIMM-365 (Rein) flew 3,884 hours, transported 17,061 passengers and 2,598,315 pounds of cargo. At the end of September, BA4M-365 was reassigned to MAG-29, 2d MAW and was reduced to its organizational strength of twelve (12) CH-46E's.
From 18 - 23 October 1988, six (6) CH-46E's, along with a detachment of two (2) CH-53E's, two (2) AH- I T's, two (2) UH- IN's, three (3) OV- I O's and five (6) AV-8B's participated in Combined Arms Operation support. Then on 3 December, three (3) CH-46E's departed for Pensacola, Florida to support the sea trials of the US S WASP (LHD-1). From 12-24 March, six CH-46E's deployed to NAS Atlanta to conduct training in a mountainous region. HMM-365 composited on 12 April 1989, as the Aviation Combat Element for 24 MEU. From 8-15 June, the Squadron deployed to the Army Training Site, Dawson, WV to conduct mountain area operations. Then from l- 1 5 July, a detachment of three (3) CH-46E's, three (3) AH- I T's and two (2) LTH- IN's deployed to MCAS Beaufort, SC to conduct urban training. Nest, the Squadron detached two (2) CH-46E's and two (2) LTH-IN's for Gas and Oil Platform assault training in Grand Isle, LA. Finally, on 22 August, the Squadron embarked aboard the USS IWO JIMA for FLEETEX/SOCEX 1-90 and returned to MCAS New River on I I September.
The Squadron embarked aboard the USS IWO JIMA again on 12 October 89 to commence operations as the ACE for 24 NMU (SOC) and LF6F 1-90 in the Mediterranean Sea. From 6 - 11 November, BAM-365 participated in Spanish PHMLEX 1-90. On the evening of 22 November 1989, Capt Todd 0. Travis and Capt Michael W. Vidusek were reportedmissingatseaalongwiththeAH-ITtheywereflying. Inthe2Ohoursimmediately followingthereport,asearchwasconductedby allavailableassetsofMARGI-90. Theaircraft andcrewweredeclaredlost atseaon23Novemberl989. TheSquadron'sClass"A"NEshap Free flight hour total had reached 97,400.
On 5 December 1989, the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), Gen. Gray, and the Commander, Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTBTLT), RAdm Williams, visited 24 MEU (SOC). Commanding General, Second Marine Aircraft Wing, MGen Gustafson and Commanding Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 29, Col Barba, visited the Squadron and participated in ordnance shoots during Tunisian PHIBLEX 1-90, which went from 11-19 December. FEMA4-365 (Rein) flew a remarkable 605 flight hours during the exercise.
On 20 December 1989, a detachment of six (6) CH-46E's, two (2) CH-53E's, two (2) AH- I T's and two (2) UH-IN's flew off the USS IWO JIMA to conduct flight operations ashore at the Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily. The detachment returned aboard USS IWO JIMA on 2 January 1990. Then on 4 January, a detachment of eight (8) CH-46E's, two (2) AH-l T's and two (2) LTH-lN's flew to Camp de Canjuers, France while a second detachment of three (3) CH-53E's flew to Le Luc Army Airfield, France for cold weather training. On 26 January, both detachments returned to US S IWO JIMA. The Mayflower PHIBLEX 1-90 took place during 27-28 January.
On 12 February 1990, three (3) CH-46E's, one (1) CH-53E and one (1) AH- IT flew ashore to Haifa Air Base, Israel to begin operations ashore. On 2 March the Squadron detachment returned aboard USS IWO JIMA.
At 0300 on 23 March 1990, the Squadron flew nine (9) CH-46E's, three (3) CH-53E's, two (2) AH-lT's and two (2) UH-IN's on an NVG airfield seizure/hostage rescue into the British Territory of Gibraltar. Later that same morning, the Squadron arrived at NAS Rota, Spain. On 27 March, the Squadron conducted the LF6F tumover/Outchop with IE\4M-261 (Rein) and 22 MEU(SOC), and on 30 March began TRANSLANT to CONUS. Finally on the afternoon of 9 April, the Squadron offloaded its aircraft and personnel at MCAS New River. During LF6F 1-90 (12 October 1989 - 9 April 1990), B3AM-365 (Rein) had flown a total of 4,407.9 hours, 10,658 passengers and 1,045 tons of cargo.
FINM-365 (Rein) provided six (6) CH-46E's, four (4) CH-53E's, two (2) AH-IT's and one (1) UH- IN for Capabilities Exercise (CAPEX) 90. The Squadron demonstrated LAV/A-rtillery external lift, SPEE, Troop Raid, Escort and Static Display. The Squadron remained composite and in a standby status for 24 MEU(SOC) until I I May, where it was reassigned to NIAG-29, 2d MAW and reduced to its organizational strength of twelve (I 2) CH-46E's.
On 13 May, all Navy/Marine Corps CH-46's were grounded due to premature failure of the aft transmission input quill. The grounding was continued on 20 May for fatigue failure of a connecting link. Subsequent flight operations were severely limited. Following the grounding cancellation, the Squadron again provided six (6) CH-46E's for 2d NIAW CAPEX-90 on 27 July, where combat ready Marines were inserted into LZ Bluebird, Camp Lejeune, and a SPIE was demonstrated. After CAPEX, the Squadron provided a Static Display at LZ Bluebird. ARer the 2 August Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, FEVL\4-365 executed a change of operational control from MAG-29 to MAG-40, 4th MEB on I I August to participate in OPERATION DESERT SHIELD. The Squadron began preparing immediately and on 19 August, only four months after its last deployment, embarked all twelve (12) CH-46E's aboard the USS GUAM and departed the following day. The US S GUAM passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on I September and the Suez Canal on 8 September before arriving on station in the North Arabian Sea on 15 September.
From I - 5 October 1990, BA4M-365 participated in Sea Soldier 1, where ten (1) CH-46E's were launched with ten (1) CH-46E's from UNIA4-263 and performed a helibome assault. BA4M-365 was designated Mission Commander for Sea Soldier II as five (5) CH-46E's were used with five (5) CH-46E's from IEWM-263 for a combined surface/air assault. The US S GUAM passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf to participate in Exercise INEVIINENT THUNDER from 19 - 21 November. Again, a helibome assault was performed with seven (7) CH-46E's from FINM-365 along with seven (7) from BA4M-263.
Following 96 days of sailing, the USS GUAM visited the port city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 24 November - 3 December. During this period, BAIM-365 conducted a through Nfid-Cruise Corrosion Inspection. After the port visit, BA4M-365 was once again designated Mission Commander for Sea Soldier III, launching five (5) CH-46E's with FINM-263 on a night belibome assault utilizing NVG'S. The USS GUAM with BA4M-365 on board, made a port visit in Muscat, Oman from 22 - 27 December.
On 6 January 1991, FIMM-3 65 conducted OPERATION EASTERN EXIT, a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) of the American Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Squadron launched five (5) CH-46E's along with five (5) from I-IMM-263 under NVG's evacuating 281 Americans and foreign nationals. As the USS GUAM sailed back north towards Muscat, Oman the ship had its first-ever birth on board. All evacuees were debarked in Muscat on I I January. Iraq's refusal to withdrawal from Kuwait before the 15 January deadline forced the beginning of OPERATION DESERT STORM on 17 January. As the air attacks continued, Exercise Sea SoldierlVwasconductedfrom26January-2February. FINM-3651aunchedfive(5)CH-46E's along with five (5) from FINIM-263 for the helibome assault, and then orchestrated a tactical withdrawal utilizing night vision goggles (NVG's).
By 22 February, the US S :IUAM transited the Strait of Hormuz back into the Persian Gulf Ground combat operations commenced 24 February, and B:NM-365 awaited possible orders to execute a raid on either Kuwait's Faylaka Island (OPERATION DESERT SLASH), or the Ashuaybah port facility along the Kuwaiti coast (OPERATION DESERT SABER). The success of the ground operations negated the necessity for either operation. To facilitate allied advances inland to the west and continued committing Iraqi forces, FDAM-365 assumed Mission Commander for an NVG long range amphibious demonstration against the beaches of Kuwait's Bubiyan Island on the night of 26 February. Utilizing MAG-40 assets, FEVII\4-365 rapidly planned and executed the evolution under MINCONMcodeword conditions. The entire mission was successful and all aircraft returned safely. On 28 February a conditional cease fire was issued, and on I March the US S GUAM sailed enroute to the South Arabian Gulf.
Following port visits in Haifa, Israel and Rota, Spain, the USS :IUAM sailed across the Atlantic and FEMA4-3 65 flew off all aircraft and personnel to MCAS New River on 18 April 199 1. It was a great day! During the eight (8) month deployment, lDVIAl-365 accumulated 2527.5 flight mishap free flight hours, transported 8480 passengers and lifted 1,439,850 pounds of cargo. On 6 May, BA41\4-3 65 was reassigned to MAG-29, 2d MAW. During the week of 14 May, the Squadron provided six (6) CH-46E's per day for the Capabilities Exercise (CAPEX) at LZ Bluebird, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. On 4 June the Squadron provided two (2) CH-46E's for the National Victory Celebration in Washington, D.C. This detachment provided a static display aircraft on The Mall and a backup aircraft. The Squadron also provided one (1) CH-46E as a static display aboard the USS NASSAU for the National Victory Celebration in New York City, New York.
A Detachment of two (2) CH-46E's departed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Scranton, PA on 19 June to participate in the Armed Forces Airshow "91. The detachment provided ajump platform for the U.S. Navy "Leap Frogs" SEALs Parachute Team, a static display aircraft and the primary SAR support for the U.S. Navy "Blue Angels" precision flight demonstration team. On 25 June the Squadron provided one (1) CH-46E as a static display for 11 MEF Change of Command.
On 7 June BA4M-3 65 rated the Southwest Asia Streamer with two (2) bronze stars for the Squadrons participation in Desert Shield/Storm. LtCol Kenneth J. Glueck assumed command of FEVB4-365 on 26 June. LtCol K. J. Glueck relieved LtCol Robert E. Saikowski in a Change of Command ceremony held at MCAS New River. On I July BMM-365 repositioned four (4) CH-46E helicopters to MCAS Cherry Point for advanced breakdown and staging for C-5 transport to NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico in support of UNITAS. On 2 July the Squadron provided a platoon of Marines to participate in the Jacksonville Freedom Parade honoring the Marines and Sailors of Desert Shield/Storm. On 6 July the first C-5 with half of BA4M-365 Det Alpha arrived at NAS Roosevelt Roads. Due to mechanical delays on the second C-5, the last half of Det Alpha arrived at NAS Roosevelt Roads on 8 July. From 10 - 1 6 July combined operations between U.S. Venezuelan and Peruvian Marines were conducted to include a surface/air amphibious assault. On 19 and 20 July personnel and equipment were retrograded to MCAS Cherry Point utilizing a single C-5 transport aircraft in two (2) separate lifts 24 hours apart.
On 19 July one (1) CH-46E departed for James Cox/Dayton International Airport, Ohio to participate in the Dayton International Airshow. The aircraft provided a static display for the three day event. On 24 July one (1) CH-46E flew to MCAS Cherry Point to provide a static display for the United States Naval Academy Midshipman.
On 26 July BA4M-365 held a Squadron Safety Stand Down. Upon completion of the Stand Down, Major General Heamey, CG 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), presented the Squadron with the 1990 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Safety Award and the Fleet Marine Force Atlantic Annual Aviation Safety Award. The Squadron accumulated 4744.8 mishap free hours during the 1990 calendar year. On 29 July the Squadron continued its safety awareness during the Group Safety Stand Down.
On 23 August two (2) CH-46E helicopters departed MCAS New River for Reading, PA to take part in the Reading Aerofest Airshow. The detachment provided a static display during the Airshow.
On 31 August four (4) CH-46E helicopters departed MCAS New River for 29 Palms, CA. in support of Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) 10-91. On 5 September the Detachment arrived at 29 Palms Expeditionary Airfield for desert operations augmenting BA4M-263 in the transport/medium lift role of the exercise. During the three week Exercise BAM-365 was responsible for the safe medical evacuation of one bum victim to San Bemadino County Medical, Palm Springs, CA, a premature labor case to Lomalinda Hospital, Palm Springs, CA, one Marine Spinal Menegitis to Balboa Medical, San Diego, CA. and one Marine with head injuries from the training area to the 29 Palms Medical Clinic. On 24 September BTVIM-365 assets departed 29 Palms and two days later the detachment of four (4) helicopters landed at MCAS New River.
On 18 September, BNM-365 rated the Naval Unit Commendation (NUC) Streamer, second award, for the Squadrons participation in Desert Shield/Storm.
The week beginning 6 October two (2) CH-46E's provided a static display and a backup aircraft at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, NM. Also two (2) CH-46E helicopters supported CAPEX at LZ Bluebird, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with fastrope and a fastrope backup aircraft. On 30 October four (4) CH-46E helicopters from FEMA4-365 conducted a helibome assault in the Camp Lejeune training area liffing and inserting 150 Marines in support of 3/8's Marine Corps Readiness (MCRESS) Evaluation.
On 4 November, I-E\4M-365 conducted Squadron wide nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) training using the MWSS-272 trail for individual survival measures in a contaminated environment, mission oriented training (MOT), personnel decontamination station (PDS) and field gas chamber. On 12 - 14 November annual rifle range qualification for all Squadron personnel using the "B " MOD course was conducted with enlisted personnel, E-5 and below, remaining at the Stone Bay barracks. Clear skies, moderate temperatures and light winds made for three outstanding days of shooting.
On 18 November FIMM-365 provided two (2) CH-46E helicopters to lift 18 General Officers representing 15 countries. The flight was conducted from MCAS Cherry Point to Camp Lejeune and back again. By the end of the day, BMM-365 received the Squadrons first "Bullfrog" from Naval Aviation Maintenance Department (NADEP), MCAS Cherry Point. The extended range fuel cells, visible by the larger stub wings, enable the aircraft to remain on station or travel distances equal to an aircraft configured with an internal fuel tank. On 22 November the Squadron provided three (3) CH-46E helicopters for two separate VIP missions. The first mission flew Admiral Jorolf Rein, Chief of Defense (CHOD) Norway (CODE 2), and LtGen W. M. Keys, CG 11 Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), from ALZ 2 to the MOUT facility. The second mission involved flying MGen Van Ripper, CG 2d Marine Division, and 4 passengers from the MOUT facility to the Stone Bay Rifle Range. The same day FDAM-365 accomplished an Aviation Safety Milestone by surpassing tTwo (2) years and 8330 mishap free flight hours.
In 1992, FE\4M-365 composited 10 January and became the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) for the 26th MEU. From 7 February to 24 March FINM-365 (REIN) sent out four detachments, one in support of TCAT 2-92 and one to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina for TRUEX XVI and VIPEX. On 31 March the squadron embarked upon the USS Iwo Jima for Blue/Green Water Work-ups to conduct MCCRES and SOC evaluations. The 26th MEU and FINM-365 (REIN) were Special Operations Capable and ready to deploy on 28 May for LF6F 2-92
On 28 May, FIN4M-365 once again embarked on the USS Iwo Jima. The squadron set sail on LF6F 2-92 for the Mediterranean Sea. After completing training exercises in Spain and Italy, the Squadron went into ModLoc in the Adriatic Sea off the Coast of Yugoslavia in support of operation PROVIDE PROMISE. While on station in the Adriatic Sea, the squadron sent out a four CH-46E det aboard the USS Trenton to participate in exercises in Israel, Tunisia, and France. On 3 September, while on station off the coast of Yugoslavia, the squadron launched a TRAP mission consisting of two CH-53E's and two AH-IW's into Yugoslavia in response to the downing of an Italian cargo aircraft carrying relief supplies into Sarajevo.
The squadron joined back up on 25 September off the coast of Turkey to participate in DISPLAY DETERMINATION-92. The squadron then spent the remainder of the deployment on station in the Adriatic until returning to MCAS New River on 24 November 1992. Upon return, the squadron went decomposite on 4 December 1992 and prepared for the year to come.
The squadron's 1993 efforts began with things at a much more relaxed pace with two safety Standdowns and celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday with a 96 hour weekend. The slow pace was not to last for long. February began with the change of command as LtCol. Wallace G. Duncan, Jr. recieved command from LtCol. Kenneth j. Glueck, Jr. Following the President's Day 96 hour weekend, the "Blue Knights" participated in CAPEX at Camp Lejeune, followed by the Marine Corps Administrative and Analysis Team inspection on the 25th of February with "excellent" results.
In March the squadron took time out for much needed Battle skills training and it's semi-annual weigh-in and PFT on the 26th. The month of April began with a "Blue-Knight" Easter party sponsored by the squadron wives. The operations tempo began to pick up after pistol qualifications from the 5th to the 7th. Sergeant Major Ronald B. Kirby assumed the squadron's Sergeant Major billet from Sergeant Major Richard M. Roark on the 9th of April and the squadron held an augmentation board from 12-19 April for eight competing officers. In preparation for its upcoming exercise, the squadron held a safety standdown on the 12th. Topics included LPH operating procedures, night and NVG operations, hot weather review, HAZREP review and egress training with the AR-5 gas mask. Just prior to embarkation, the squadron wives held a bake sale in which proceedings went to family readiness.
On 26 April 1993, the "Blue Knights" embarked upon the USS Guadalcanal for Ocean Venture '93. That day, the squadron recieved the 1992 Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award. The following day, TCAT-93 began off the Camp Lejeune coast to prepare the Marines for their upcoming venture to Puerto Rico. During TCAT-93, elements of the recently formed ACE readied themselves for day and night shipboard operations. Also at that time, the squadron was named 2nd MAW's nominee for the Keith B. McCutcheon Award: "Helo Squadron of the Year." On the 4th of May the US S Guadalcanal steamed south to Vieques Island for Ocean Venture '93. The main event of the exercise was an amphibious assault to insert Fox Company, 2/8 and support the BLT until the end of the exercise on the 16th. The entire operation ended on the 21st of May with a 17 aircraft fly-off to return to MCAS New River, N.C. In June the squadron held an "Aircrew of the Quater Board" and articipated in the MAG-29 Ser-eant Major post and relief ceremony. The squadron recieved a tremendous honor on 14 June as it was awarded the FNELant Aviation Safety Award by MGen J. D. Howell. Also that month the squadron underwent the NIAG-29 NBCD Inspection with "excellent" results and held a squadron-wide suicide prevention seminar.
July began with the "Blue Knights" celebrating their 30th Anniversary. The day consisted of a "Blue Knight" T-shirt issue, squadron formation run, squadron photo, cake cutting with guest Colonel Frank L. Brewer (CO, MAG-29), squadron softball game, and family picnic. On the 1Oth, the squadron supported the NATC Airshow at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, with two CH-46E aircraft for static display and a lot of fun. The 13th brought a great honor as MGen J. D. Howell Jr. CG, 2nd MAW flew with the squadron. The month continued to be a busy one as the "Blue Knights" of BA4N4-365 participated in CAPEX 93-4. The month wrapped up with the squadron flying with BGen Thomas A. Braaten, Dep CG, 11 MEF.
August began the fast pace of a workup as the squadron began preparing for CAX and Bridgeport. On the 2nd and 3rd of August, the squadron held a safety standdown in which the topics were Desert Survival and Mountain Flying Briefs. The 3rd was a big day as the squadron was awarded the 1992 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award by MGen J. D. Howell Jr. On the 4th of August, the squadron got a face lift as it relocated from building 515 to hangar 4100. Many didn't have time to enjoy the new move, as eight days later, four BAM-365 aircraft arrived at Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC), Bridgeport. The remainder of the squadron was not far behind as five aircraft departed on the 23rd for 29 Palms, California. On the 28th, two aircraft departed Bridgeport for 29 Palms. Squadron totals at MWTC were 202.8 hours, 532 pax, and 7600 pounds of cargo. By the beginning of September, BAM-365 had a nine aircrafl det supporting the MAG-31 ACE. During the CAX, squadron aircraft flew the following missions: NVG Terf/Nav, Gunshoots, Trooplifts, SPIE RIG, Fast Rope, Recon Inserts, and MEDEVAC. During the exercise the squadron had a dark day as it had to fly Search and Rescue and provided transportation of personnel to the site of a dual AH-IW crash in the training area. On 15 September, CAX 10-93 was complete. Squadron totals during the exercise were: 951 pax, 21,650 lbs. of cargo, 407.9 total hours and 89.9 NVG hours. Following the exercise, squadron aircraft flew to MCAS Tustin, CA, to get prepared to be turned over to MAWTS-1 as support aircraft.
October was a month to catch up with Troop Info classes, BST/EST classes and exams, Tech Training, Education Benefits, MCI classes, and Intel updates. By the 3 1 st of the month, WTI Course 1-94 was complete, with FE\4M-365 graduating two Pilots, two Crewchiefs and two Aerial Observers.
At the beginning of November, the squadron regained all of her aircraft. Immediately following were the Officer, Staff NCO, and Enlisted Marine Corps Balls on the 8th, 9th, and loth respectively. On the 10th, the squadron held it's own cake cutting ceremony. On the 19th of November, the squadron participated in the MAG-29 7th annual field meet, but the days of fun and frolic were ending. On 21 November, BAM-365 reported to OPCON to 26th MEU as the ACE for LF6F 2-94 and JTG 94-2. On the 22nd all officers attended MEU appreciation day and on the 24th I-IN4M-3 65 welcomed aboard all her detachments from BNH-464 and HMLA-269. Immediately following, the squadron celebrated a Thanksgivin- Day 96 hour weekend. Upon return, leading elements of the squadron traveled to the MEU (SOC) workshop at LFTC Lant, Norfolk, Virginia. December began with squadron training and participation in the MAG-29 change of command ceremony. The 15th of December was BNM-365's day to show the new Group Commander their stuff as Colonel Michael L. Olson, the new MAG-29 CO attended the BAM-365 command.
On 4 May 1996, the Blue Knights embarked aboard the USS Nassau to participate in Joint/Combined Exercise PURPLE STAR. After returning, HMM-365 again went composite as the ACE for the 26th MEU. The squadron departed for its LF6F 1-97 deployment aboard the USS Nassau on 23 November 1996. During the deployment, the Blue Knights supported Operation DECISIVE ENDEAVOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, participated in PHIBLEX and Exercise DESTINED GLORY in Spain, and in INVITEX and Exercise ISLAND THUNDER in Italy, and later supported Operation SILVER WAKE, the Non-combatant Evacuation of the American Embassy in Tirana, Albania. The squadron successfully evacuated 851 American and third country nationals while surpassing 38,000 mishap-free flight hours. The Blue Knights returned to New River on 22 May 1997. In September 1997, the squadron received the 1997 MCAA Edward C. Dyer Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron of the Year Award. To close out the year, the Blue Knights achieved 40,000 mishap-free flight hours and the squadron was awarded the CNO Safety Award.
In July 1998, the Blue Knights deployed a detachment to Roosevelt Rhodes, Puerto Rico to participate in UNITAS while the remainder of the squadron supported Operation URBAN WARRIOR at Camp Lejeune. On 6 October, HMM-365 conducted the first Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) exercise in conjunction with a II MEF NBC inspection. The squadron continued workups until departing with the 26th MEU on 15 April 1999. The Blue Knights supported Operations NOBLE ANVIL and SHINING HOPE in the Kosovo/Serbian Conflict and land-based aircraft at Skopje, Macedonia from June to July to support NATO’s peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions. In September the 26th MEU was ordered to support earthquake relief operations in Turkey. HMM-365 flew rescue team and surveyor lift missions during Operation AVID RESPONSE and returned to MCAS New River in October 1999.
In late April 2000, a squadron detachment chopped to HML/A-269 to form the ACE for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF-8) which would support Operation EASTERN ACCESS on Vieques Island. SPMAGTF-8 embarked aboard the USS Bataan on 28 April and supported the removal of protestors from Vieques Island ranges until its return on 17 May.
On 19 March, the Blue Knights composited in preparation for the upcoming LF6F 1-02 deployment. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the Blue Knights prepared for immediate departure. The 26th MEU deployed on 20 September. After participating in Exercise BRIGHT STAR in Egypt, the MEU transited to a position off the coast of Pakistan to begin combat operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. HMM-365(REIN), in concert with HMM-163(REIN), launched 6 CH-53Es to secure FOB Rhino, nearly 800 nautical miles inland. After securing Camp Rhino and Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan, the Blue Knights supported coalition forces raids against the Taliban from December 2001 to February 2002. The 26th MEU successfully retrograded to the USS Bataan by the end of February 2002. In March, the MEU transited to the Red Sea for a potential NEO in Yemen to support the Vice President’s visit to the region. On 19 April 2002, the Blue Knights returned to New River.
In January 2003, the Blue Knights prepared for deployment to Ali Al Salem Airbase, Kuwait in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Squadron aircraft were embarked aboard fast support shipping (FSS) for the trip to Kuwait in late January, the first time such a process had been attempted under 2d MAW. Squadron personnel arrived in Kuwait on 5 February and after re-assembling aircraft later in the month, the Blue Knights prepared for combat operations. Operation IRAQI FREEDOM began on 20 March with HMM-365 leading the TRAP Team effort for the initial heliborne raids on the crucial Al Faw Peninsula. From 20 March until 1 May, the squadron provided CASEVAC and assault support to I MEF, the 24th MEU, the 15th MEU, Task Force Tarawa, and United Nations forces. Blue Knight crews flew multiple hasty raids and recon inserts as ground forces progressed further north towards Baghdad. The squadron supported I MEF operations from Ali Al Salem until mid-April when it re-deployed itself in one day to Jalibah Forward Operating Base (FOB), Iraq where it met up with MAG-29. The squadron conducted flight operations from Iraq until 10 May when the squadron embarked aboard the USS Kearsarge. After supporting the President’s visit to Egypt and Jordan, the USS Kearsarge transited to Liberia for possible NEO operations. The Blue Knights returned to New River on 28 June 2003.
On 7 Aug 2004 HMM-365’s main body departed New River, NC for Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. On 21 August the squadron assumed the assault support mission from HMM-261. On New Year’s Eve they executed a leaflet drop over the town of Haditha in support of the 31st MEU PSYOPS, a flight that carried the Iraqi Land Forces Commander, LtGen Abdul Qater to Baghdad, and a flight that lifted pallets of toys on a humanitarian mission from LZ Washington to FOB Duke. On 12 Jan 2005 the Blue Knights executed a 4 plane division raid in support of 1/8, Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon(+). The mission consisted of a 40-man insert just prior to sunrise north east of Al Kharma in order to capture family members of Oskar Habbas, believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of Nicholas Berg.
On 27 January HMM-365 inserted members of 2d Recon Battalion into the Zaidon region to set up a hasty vehicle check point. The mission resulted in the capture of insurgents that had repeatedly called in deadly indirect mortar fires on 2d Recon headquarters. On 28 January 2005 the eve of one of the most significant international political events in the history of Iraq the Blue Knights launched 3 sections of CH-46Es to transport interpreters and polling station volunteers for the upcoming Iraqi national elections, which were a resounding success. On February 28, 2005 HMM-365 returned to MCAS New River after flying more than 3,961 combat hours, 2,404 sorties, 11,162 passengers, and 748,496 pounds of cargo.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. On September 2, 2005 HMM-365 aircraft begin rescue and evacuation operations along the Gulf Coast as part of HMH-464(REIN). The HMM-365 detachment rescued over 170 citizens. On 30 September 2005, HMM-365 detachment returned to MCAS New River.
On 30 November 2005 HMM-365 was designated the Air Combat Element (ACE) for the 24th MEU and embarked on the USS IWO JIMA on 07 June 2006. From July 6-18, 2006 the squadron participated in Exercise INFINITE MOONLIGHT from King Faisal Air Base, Jordan.
On 15 July 2006, while the squadron was conducting operations in Jordan, the 24th MEU received a Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) to prepare for the evacuation of American citizens from the city of Beirut, Lebanon in response to the rapid deterioration of relations between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah in the southern region of the country of Lebanon. On 17 July, the ACE began the NEO as two CH-53Es launched from Royal Air Field (RAF) Akrotiri and landed at the helipad of the American Embassy of Beirut, inserted Forward Command Element (FCE) personnel and extracted American citizens to the island of Cypress. At the conclusion of operations in Lebanon, HMM-365(REIN) CH-46Es and CH-53Es had flown a total of 431.8 flight hours, safely air-lifting 2,020 American citizens from the American Embassy to Expeditionary Support Group (ESG) shipping and the island of Cypress. In addition, squadron assault aircraft carried 304,930 lbs of cargo to and from the embassy, including palletized food and water, which aided the Marines and American citizens in the embassy.
In June 2007 the squadron, now under Lieutenant Colonel John C. Vara, prepared to once again act as the ACE for the 24th MEU. During the work-ups for deployment the squadron performed MEU support and squadron training while operating from Blackstone Army Airfield at Fort Pickett, Virginia. At sea periods were conducted aboard the USS Nassau. At the tail end of the pre- deployment training plan the mission for the 24th MEU and HMM-365 would change dramatically. The MEU would disembark Expeditionary Strike Group shipping and begin sending assets to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Within a month of arrival in theatre the squadron began flight operations at Kandahar practicing day and night desert landings in preparation for Operation AZADA WOZA. In May 2008 HMM-365 REIN completed a battalion minus insert to a desert zone under low light level conditions in the Garmsir district, a known enemy stronghold. The squadron continued to support Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/6 for its historic fight for control of the Taliban stronghold of Garmsir. During the operation, the Blue Knights were conducting a variety of missions from three different locations to ensure 24 hour casualty evacuation, close air support, assault support, and aerial reconnaissance.
Upon return from Afghanistan the squadron changed command from Lieutenant Colonel John C. Vara to Lieutenant Colonel Richard F. Fuerst. During a re-designation ceremony aboard MCAS New River on January 15, 2009 the squadron changed from helicopters to tilt rotor MV-22 aircraft marking the end of the CH-46E era of the Blue Knights and simultaneously ushering in the MV-22 era. Along with the transfer of their aircraft, less than a quarter of the squadron’s personnel remained. With another combat deployment on the horizon under 3rd MAW (Forward), VMM-365 began the arduous task of preparing for combat operations once again. In April 2009 the Blue Knights received their first MV-22. Most Marines had only minimal experience on the Osprey when they received notice that they would deploy to Afghanistan in June 2010. Although transitioning squadrons had previously received more time to train, operational commitments reduced the timeframe significantly for the Blue Knights. In June 2009, the squadron began in-house flight training with only six aircraft commanders and less than half of its Ospreys. By November 2009, VMM-365 had received its full complement of aircraft and personnel. During this time, the squadron completed all of the required inspections including the 2d MAW Logistics Management Assistance and Training (LOGMAT) inspection and the 2d MAW Commanding General’s Readiness Inspection (CGRI), receiving the highest scores of any squadron within 2d MAW.
The Blue Knights continued to train at MCAS New River until January 2010, when the squadron deployed to Yuma, Arizona, for their pre-deployment training. There, the squadron conducted operations in the desert environment, concentrating on core-skill training flights that would prepare its pilots and aircrew for Afghanistan. After completing their training in Yuma, VMM-365 moved to Twentynine Palms, California, to participate in the Enhanced Mohave Viper (EMV) 3-10 training exercise. After completing EMV in March, VMM-365 became the first Osprey squadron to be combat-capable in less than 15 months. Immediately, the Blue Knights redeployed to MCAS New River, North Carolina, to await their deployment orders for Afghanistan. Finally, in June 2010, VMM-365 embarked on commercial and military air transportation and reported to 3d MAW (FWD), conducting a Transfer of Authority (TOA) with the “Raging Bulls" of VMM-261 at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on 7 July 2010. The Blue Knights’ Ospreys became part of a team of several platforms providing assault support for Task Force (TF) Leatherneck and coalition forces.
VMM-365 left their V-22s at MCAS New River, falling on equipment and aircraft already in Afghanistan with VMM-261. Eight months of combat operations in the desert environment had taken its toll on the aircraft; the Blue Knights began their next task of preparing the Ospreys for an additional seven months in combat. Simultaneously, the Blue Knights began flying missions, and the Marines of VMM-365 transitioned from confident new tiltrotor pilots and enlisted aircrew into experienced combat crews. Even with temperatures above 115°F and density altitudes exceeding 7,000 feet, the Osprey’s capabilities were impressive as it supported the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Each month in Afghanistan, the Blue Knights broke their previous month’s flight time record, and in November posted a record mission capable rate of 72.7% while flying over 450 hours. The Blue Knights launched several sections each day executing general support (GS) missions ranging all corners of the RC (SW) battle space.
In addition to GS missions which were vital in supporting the ground forces, the squadron supported over a dozen named operations. Those operations consisted of traditional medium-lift inserts under low light level conditions, aerial delivery operations to re-supply troops on the ground and longer-range missions to the borders of Afghanistan. In addition to lifting U.S. Marines, the Blue Knights transported U.K. troops, Georgian Troops, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and key Afghan civilians as part of an international coalition to support the fight against the Taliban. By the end of the year the squadron, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Craig C. LeFlore, had logged 2027.8 combat flight hours, safely transporting 22,395 passengers and 1,073,469 pounds of cargo. They returned home to MCAS New River in January 2011 after their successful first deployment as a tiltrotor squadron.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list