Official Squadron History 1981-1990


On 10 January 1983, HMM-162 detached from MAG-26, joining MAG-29 as a step in the helicopter air group reorganization within the Second Marine Aircraft Wing.  The period from 11 May to 7 December 1983 found the "Golden Eagles" embarked aboard the USS Iwo Jima as the Air Combat Element of the 24th MAU.  During this period, the squadron played a significant role in supporting the Multi-national Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon.  During the next five months, Marines filled 500,000 sandbags and placed 10,000 feet of concertina wire.  The
 area around the airport became more hostile.  On 29 August, HMM-162 AH-1J Cobras destroyed an armored personnel carrier machine gun that had opened fire on Marines.  But, one Cobra took three machine gun hits and had to make an emergency landing aboard the USS Iwo Jima.   On 20 September, for the first time, aircraft were attacked by a Russian SA-7 surface-to-air missile.  By October 12, nearly all of HMM-162 was sent back to the USS Iwo Jima.  Things seemed to quiet down on Saturday, 22 October.  Tragically, at 0622 Sunday morning, 23 October, a yellow Mercedes truck sped through the front of the battalion headquarters compound at Beirut International Airport.  The truck, driven by an Iranian terrorist, exploded with a force of more than 12,000 pounds of TNT, collapsing the four-story building making a crater eight feet deep and 39 feet by 29 feet under the concrete floor.  The attack killed a total of 241 personnel, 220 of them Marines.    HMM-162 went into action, evacuating the dead and wounded.  On Monday evening, 24 October, the "Golden Eagles" flew Vice President of the United States George Bush to the site of the bombing.  HMM-162 flew around the clock, assisting with recovery operations and flying many VIPs.  In the process, HMM-162 set a Naval Aviation flight hour record for a deployed
 squadron by flying over 7,440 hours while transporting 45,149 passengers and 6,660,379 pounds of cargo.  This accomplishment still stands as an LF6F record.  As a result of its distinguished accomplishments and uncompromising safety standards during this period, HMM-162 was the recipient of both the FMFLANT Aviation Safety Award and the National Defense Transportation Unit Award for 1983 and 1984, respectively.  Also, during this deployment, HMM-162 was the first squadron to operationally employ the CH-53E aboard ship.
            During the next three years, the squadron deployed twice more to the Mediterranean, as the Air Combat Element of the24th MAU in 1985 and of the 22nd MAU in 1986.  The cumulative result of both of these deployments was over 8,000 flight yours flown, while carrying 35,626 passengers and over 5,000,000 pounds of cargo.   
            From 30 April to 20 May 1987, the squadron deployed to the Caribbean to participate in exercise Solid Shield 87.  During September 1987, HMM-162 deployed to Plattsburg, NY for Mountain Area Training and initial water landings on Lake Champlain.  On 3 December 1987, the squadron accepted the first of twelve CH-46E Serviceability, Reliability and Maintainability (SR&M) conversion aircraft from NAD Cherry Point, North Carolina.  From 5 January to 3 March 1988, HMM-162
deployed to the west coast to participate in a Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) 3,4-88 at Twentynine Palms, California while simultaneously supporting the Battalion Mountain Operations Course (BMOC) 3,4-88 in Bridgeport, California with a four aircraft detachment.  The squadron also provided eight aircraft and support personnel to augment WTI 1-88
            From May to December 1988, HMM-162 conducted two unit deployments to NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida for situational training exercises, electronic warfare (EW) training, and long-range night vision goggle navigation training.  A highlight of these deployments was the opportunity to practice CH-46 water landings on Lake George, a first for many squadron pilots.  Other pre-deployment workup periods for LF6F 1-88 found the squadron operating from as far north as New York to the balmy Caribbean in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.  Also during this period, the "Golden Eagles" received the FMFLANT Aviation Safety Award for CY 1987.   
            On 31 December 1988, HMM-162 deployed aboard the USS Guadalcanal for LF6F 1-89 as the Air Combat Element of the 22nd MEU.  While deployed in the Mediterranean, the squadron conducted operations in a number of different places including Spanish Phiblex 1-89 in Sierra de Retin, Spain, Phinia 1-89 in Corsica, and Noble Shirley IV and Dragon Hammer 1-89.  The squadron also provided support for President George Bush's diplomatic visit to Rome, Italy from 22-29 May 1989.  During the deployment, the squadron flew over 3,660 hours while transporting 15,664 passengers and over 3 million pounds of cargo.   
The squadron returned to MCAS New River on 29 July 1989.  From 25-29 July, HMM-162 provided a flyover for the commissioning ceremony of the USS Wasp (LHD-1), the Navy's newest amphibious ship.  After returning to the continental United States in June, the squadron stood down for a short period to restructure itself and to undergo a wing internal inspection.  The start of 1990 found the "Golden Eagles" right back in the saddle, however, as it went composite in February and began working up for LF6F 3-90.  Preparation for the float included deployment to Dawson, West Virginia for NVG and navigation training in mountainous terrain.  This deployment also afforded an opportunity for the CH-46's to practice water landings.   

            The squadron also conducted Training in an Urban Environment (TRUE) and GOPLAT during a deployment to NAS New Orleans in May and departed on its Blue/Green workups a short time later.