Official Squadron History 1971-1980


As HMM-162 stepped off for the New Year, it shifted into high gear in preparation For deployment to the Mediterranean in support of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/2, ground component of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU).  On 25 February 1971, HMM-162 supported student officers from The Basic School, Quantico, Virginia in an amphibious training exercise while deployed on board the tank landing ship USS Graham County (LST-1176).          
  HMM-162 held a change of command ceremony on 26 February 1971.  Lieutenant Colonel John W. Alber became the new commanding officer, relieving Lieutenant Colonel James A. Roberts.           

           From 23 to 27 March, HMM-162 joined the 32 MAU on the USS Guam for PHIBLEX 1-71.  During the following month, on 17 April, it mounted out on the same ship as part of LANDFORMED 1-71.              

           May 1971 began with a practice helicopter assault at Timbakion, Crete followed by the execution of Operation DAWN PATROL 1-71 at Saros Bay, Turkey.  During PHIBLEX 12-71, beginning 19 May 1971, the squadron carried 3,361 passengers and 272,375 pounds of cargo in 817 sorties.   
            PHIBLEX 1-72 commenced on 9 July at Navplion, Greece.  HMM-162 transported BLT 3/2 ashore inn 166 sorties, carrying 756 passengers and 91,000 pounds of cargo.  On 20 September 1971, the squadron provided helicopter transportation for 50 VIPs from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defense College to the attack carrier USS Saratoga (CVA-60) for a briefing and air power demonstration.   
               HMM-162 returned to the United States on 9 October and unloaded squadron personnel and equipment at New River.  On 21 October, 229 Basic School officers were transported ashore from the USS Austin (LPD-4), as part of their amphibious training exercise.  A detachment of two aircraft was deployed to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina during AV-8 (Harrier) carrier operations from 20-28 January.  Two aircraft arrived at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on 19 February and began operations in support of FIREX 1-72.   
           HMM-162, through the efforts of First Lieutenant Vladimir Oksevski, assembled and flew 16 blood donor volunteers to Nyack, New York as part of the medical assistance rendered during a school bus-train accident in that community. 
           On 13 July 1972, HMM-162 launched one aircraft to Fort Stewart, Georgia for a liaison visit in preparation for Operation SOLID PUNCH.  A heavy flight- training schedule included mountain area training at Camp Mosby near Atlanta, Georgia.  Also, during this period HMM-162 accumulated over 30,000 accident-free hours.  In August, the squadron participated in Operation MABLEX, carrying 763 passengers and 6,500 pounds of gear.

            In October 1972, squadron flight activities were brought to a sudden halt when one of the unit's aircraft crashed near Bogue Field, destroying the aircraft and killing all four crewmen.  All CH-46 aircraft were grounded until required airframe modifications could be completed.

            The month of November began slowly as the squadron finished the required blade changes to all aircraft.  However, as the middle of the month arrived, flight activities were again in full swing, demonstrated by squadron participation in Operation PHIBLEX.  Also, during this period HMM-162 became a composite squadron adding four CH-53's, four AH-1J's and two UH-1N's helicopters to the squadron inventory.  By the end of the month, the squadron possessed all the aircraft, personnel and equipment necessary to function as a composite squadron for the upcoming MED 1-73 cruise.

            In December 1972, HMM-162 began final preparations for the upcoming January 1973 deployment.  However, near the end of the month the squadron received word that the cruise had been cancelled and plans were changed accordingly. 

            During the period from 6-9 March, HMM-162 participated in the test and evaluation of the CH-46F for mine clearing operations at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.  On 2 April 1973, HMM-162 as a composite squadron deployed 12 CH-46s, 8 CH-53s, 6 AH-1Js, and 2 UH-1N aircraft to Bogue Field in support of EXOTIC DANCER VII.

            Lieutenant Colonel John W. Alber relinquished command of HMM-162 to Major Ralph B. Orey in a change of command ceremony held on 13 April 1973. 

            On 11 May 1973, two aircraft returned from Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico where they had supported LANFORCARIB 2-73.  The detachment logged over 175 hours transporting 1,545 troops.  Nearly 57,000 pounds of cargo were handled in support of BLT 3/8.

            On 12 May 1973, four aircraft returned from deployment to Camp Mosby, Georgia where they participated in mountain operations.  They supported the U.S. Army rangers through insertions, extractions, parachute-drops and evasive maneuvers.  In 154 sorties, more than 250 passengers and 1000 pounds of cargo were carried. 

            On 30 April 1974, HMM-162 deployed with the 34th MAU to the Mediterranean for 6 months.  During this deployment HMM-162 participated in Operation NIMBUS STAR/MOON and the evacuation of U.S. Nationals from the island of Cyprus. 

            On 6 January 1976, the unit again left for the Mediterranean as part of the 34th MAU.  Aboard the USS Guadalcanal, the squadron monitored the unrest in Europe and maintained a continuous high state of readiness throughout the cruise. 

            During the period from 1-18 February 1978, HMM-162 deployed to the Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico in support of the 38th MAU for READEX 1-78.  This exercise demonstrated the squadron's ability to provide rapid helicopter support in the Caribbean area in absence of naval shipping. 

            During May 1978, HMM-162 deployed aboard the USS INCHON in support of exercise SOLID SHIELD. 

            During the period 23 August to 31 October 1978, the squadron deployed on a North Atlantic cruise aboard the USS Guadalcanal assigned to the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) in support of NATO Exercises NORTHERN WEDDING and BOLD GUARD. 

            21 December 1978 marked the day on which HMM-162 received its eighteen "E" model CH-46 helicopters, making it the first tactical squadron with this newest of the 46's.