Official Squadron History 1951-1960


Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 162 (HMR-162) was activated on 30 June 1951 under the command of Colonel Harold J. Mitchner at the Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF), Santa Ana, California, where the young squadron conducted its first two years of operations.  The primary mission of the squadron at that time was to provide airlift and air supply for the Fleet Marine Force in amphibious operations.  The personnel strength of the squadron grew quickly and crews were sent to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Quantico, Virginia to accept and ferry the new HRS-1 helicopters to MCAF, Santa Ana.  

The HRS-1, powered by the 700 hp Wright R-1300-3 engine had a rotor diameter of 53 feet, a fuselage length of 42 feet 4 inches and a max gross weight of 8,400 pounds.  The aircraft had a max speed of 112 knots, a cruising speed of 92 knots and a range of 330 nm.  The HRS-1 had an external lift capacity of 2000 pounds.  During these early months, the squadron was occupied primarily with proficiency training, which contributed to the growing body of knowledge of rotary winged aircraft and their tactical employment, ultimately evolving into a basis for the Marine Corps doctrine of vertical envelopment.  During this equipping phase, Mr. Igor Sikorsky, the famous aircraft designer, visited the squadron to observe his product in operation with the fleet.           

Early 1952 found a contingent of the squadron participating in Exercise Lex Baker One, the first full-scale joint Marine-Navy training maneuver to be held on the West Coast since 1949.  Helicopters of HMR-162 made amphibious warfare history during the operation when they airlifted a combat-equipped company of the 3d Marines from the escort carrier USS Rendova, (CVE-114), 10 miles at sea, to the Camp Pendleton hills.  The ship-to-shore movement was the first ever attempted on such a scale.  The earliest ship-to-shore

 movement of troops by helicopter, although with a lesser number of men, occurred during Operation Packard III, on the East Coast in May 1949.  On 1 March 1952  the  squadron commanding officer, Colonel Mitchner, was reassigned to become the commanding officer of the Marine Corps' first helicopter group, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16.  Major George H. Linnemeier took over the squadron.
                

During 1953 the squadron continued its training syllabus and in April participated in Operation Desert Rock V, which involved the helicopter lift of company-sized elements into an area subjected to a nuclear blast.  The helicopters were also used to conduct radiation-monitoring operations.  In May, the squadron took part in Exercise Pacphibex II at Camp Pendleton, California. Then, on 30 July 1953,  squadron flight personnel boarded the light aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29) at San Diego, for their first overseas deployment.  Hanshin Auxiliary Air Base, Osaka, Japan was the squadron's destination; the ship arrived on 19 August 953.  The 
remaining personnel sailed from Long Beach, California on board theattack transport USS Menard (APA-201) on 4 August 1953 and joined the squadron on 22 August at Osaka. 

During March 1954 the squadron participated in MARDIVLEX I with 3d Marine Division troops.  Upon completion of this exercise, HMR-162 moved to its new base at Oppama, Japan on 31 March. 

            On 1 March 1955, the squadron departed Japan for Ascom City, Korea to relieve HMR-161 and to support the 1st Marine Division.  The squadron remained in Korea for approximately one month flying mostly VIP missions. 

 

In late 1955, the squadron embarked on board Navy shipping and sailed for Okinawa where it participated in NAVMARLEX 3-55 and 4-55 from October through December when the squadron again returned to Oppama, Japan. 

           
           The squadron embarked on board the antisubmarine warfare carrier USS Princeton (CVS-37) at Yokosuka, Japan on 4 February 1956 for participation in NAVMARLEX 1-56 (Operation FIRM LINK) during that month.  HMR-162 was involved in additional maneuvers during 1956 as squadron personnel again sailed for Okinawa in late July and returned to Oppama on 4 September.  In November maneuvers were conducted in the Iwo Jima area. 

            During the latter part of 1956, the squadron was redesignated as Marine Helicopter Squadron-Light (HMR(L) ) 162.  In the fiscal year 1956, the squadron logged 5,166 accident-free flight hours and was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award. 

            In March 1957, the helicopters of HMR(L)-162 were utilized in support of Marines participating in PACTRAEX 57L in the Philippines.  During this month six Marines of the squadron were awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor for their gallant conduct in the recovery operations at the scene of the tragic death of President Ramon Magsaysay on Cebu Island.  The plane carrying the Philippine President from Cebu City to Manila crashed and the squadron was asked to assist in the rescue and recovery operations that were subsequently undertaken. 

            In July 1957, the squadron departed its Oppama base for maneuvers in the Okinawa area.  Squadron personnel participated in the 9th Marines' HELOLEX in late September and then entered in Exercise PHIBLINK in the Philippines in early December. 

            As the year came to a close HMR (L)-162 boarded the USS Princeton and set sail for the South China Sea.  While enroute, the ship was ordered to Singapore to load supplies to be helo distributed to flood victims in Ceylon.  The squadron used 20 HRS-3s in the operation and logged a total of 1123.9 hours for the five days of evacuation and resupply.  One of the recommendations to emerge from this action was that efforts be continued and intensified to devise navigational systems for helicopters. 

            After a stop at Singapore, squadron personnel disembarked at Cubi Point, P.I. to participate in Exercise STRONGBACK.  The unit returned to Oppama, Japan in March.  In June 1958, HMR (L)-162 embarked aboard an LSD (Landing Ship Dock) with 18 HUS helicopters and went to Okinawa for maneuvers.  During this deployment the squadron became the first helicopter unit to fly on the airways from Japan to Okinawa under actual instrument conditions. 

            On 5 February 1959, the squadron was transferred to the Marine Corps Air Facility, New River, North Carolina, where it reformed as a unit of Marine Aircraft Group (Transport Helicopter (Light) MAG (HR) (L)) 26.  On 15 February, Lieutenant Colonel Milton M. Cook, Jr. was assigned as commanding officer and the squadron began a rebuilding program.  On 1 March, MAG (HR) (L) -26 was redesignated MAG-26.  During April the squadron participated in TRALEX 2-59 in the Camp Lejeune area.  During the summer months HMR(L)-162 was involved with the relief operations in the Gulf Coast area in the aftermath of Hurricane Carla. 

            On 2 April 1960, HMR (L)-162 was reduced to zero strength and shifted to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.  The squadron was immediately built up in a few days at MCAF Futema, Okinawa as personnel began reporting from New River.  During June, the squadron embarked on the amphibious assault ship USS Princeton (LPH-5) to participate in PHIBEX 24-60 (Operation SEA HAWK).  Later, in August, the squadron embarked aboard the USS Hornet (CVS-12) for maneuvers in the western Pacific, returning to Okinawa in December 1960.