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Deployed HM-14 Det Makes Mission First on Labor Day, Gets Special Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070912-43
Release Date: 9/12/2007 8:40:00 PM

By Lt. Michael Lanzillo, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 Det. 1 Public Affairs

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Instead of spending Labor Day with a barbecue, family and friends, Sailors of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14 Det. 1 spent the American holiday ensuring their helicopters were mission ready, and they received a special visit.

The special visit came courtesy of Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7, who has operational command of the Norfolk-based helicopter detachment while they are deployed within the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Pottenger shook hands and thanked the sixty-plus men and women that make up the “World Famous Vanguard” detachment for their service and reaffirmed to them the importance of airborne mine countermeasures within forward-deployed operations. She toured the hangar bay, looked over the two MH-53E helicopters attached to the det and walked through the spaces.

“I am so proud of the work that was done by this detachment in support of the (USS) Peleliu (LHA 5) Pacific Partnership humanitarian assistance deployment. You brought great comfort and aid to thousands during your time aboard the ship,” said Pottenger, who presented her command coins to several stand out Sailors in the detachment. “The focus now shifts to theater engagement, and I know you will continue to make me proud. You will all play a vital role in maintaining peace and stability, and your presence here will positively impact our bilateral partnership with the [Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force]".

Sailors of the detachment were appreciative of the visit.

“It was nice to hear how much we are appreciated and needed out here,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Matthew Van Allen. “It makes this all worthwhile.”

Prior to arriving in Okinawa, the detachment completed a coast-to-coast transit of four helicopters from Norfolk to San Diego, embarked on board the USS Peleliu (LHA5) in support of Pacific Partnership humanitarian missions in the Philippine Islands, conducted bilateral flight operations with the Republic of Singapore Air Force and embarked aboard the USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).

Lt. Cmdr. Dan Buhr said his detachment has risen above the call of duty, and he expects them to continue to do so.

“This is a very professional group of naval aviators and air crewmen,” said Buhr. “As the admiral suggested, we have some more to accomplish here, and I fully expect that this detachment accomplishes our preset milestones and exceeds beyond them.”

HM-14, Det. 1, based in Norfolk is on a routine deployment to support 7th Fleet operations. While in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, Commander, Task Force 76 in conjuction with Mine Countermeasures Division 11 has operational control over the detachment. Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force based in Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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