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HMM-161 reaches decade-long milestone

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005371943
Story by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (Mar. 1, 2005) -- Ten years is a substantial length of time and a lot can be accomplished in such an extended period.

Upon reaching the landmark of 10 "Class A" mishap-free years of flight, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, celebrated its achievements at Miramar Feb. 24.

In addition to obtaining the milestone Feb. 19, HMM-161 has also nearly accumulated 45,000 mishap-free flight hours during the past decade.

According to Chief Warrant Officer Craig Elliott, maintenance control officer, HMM-161, a Class A mishap is a significant accident that results in the loss of life or loss of an aircraft.

"The aircraft has to be either destroyed or damaged to the point it is just not worth repairing," Elliott stated. "You can have minor mishaps but you cannot have any major damage to a person, loss of life or a limb, and as long as the aircraft's damage doesn't exceed $1 million then you have a minor mishap."

Although HMM-161 has experienced a few minor mishaps in the past 10 years, having no Class A mishaps in that time span is by no means common.

"It is extremely rare to reach 10 years without a (major) mishap," Elliott said. "I originally come from a fixed-wing community and, it is sad to say, but the possibility of achieving 10 years without a Class A mishap is something (virtually impossible to achieve).

Not satisfied with their current run of success, Elliot added that HMM-161 would continue to make every effort to double it.

"It is very significant to have something great on our record," he said. "We'll strive for another 10 years now...another 40,000 hours."

According to Elliott, HMM-161 was able to achieve a 10-year mark of achievement due to the squadron's overall ideal of maintenance, practice and flying.

"We set the bar so high," he said. "Not only for ourselves but for others, as well. We are always trying to achieve it.

"We also have a high turnover of personnel," he added. "Obviously, no one has been here for the entire (10-year duration). However, what happens is, we have that overlap and everyone is able to breed that drive and motivation as new Marines come in year after year."

Earning awards such as the Edward C. Dyer for winning Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron of the Year for the period of May 1, 2003, to April 30, 2004, and achieving 100 percent mission success through 752 missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, HMM-161 strives to be the best squadron in the Marine Corps.

"Everyday, we put 110 percent effort into our work," concluded Elliott. "We settle for no less and the Marines give us no less. That's because we hold them to a higher standard and the Marines know that."


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