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.
| 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.