USA USMC HMH 463 Rob van Disseldorp 640Sundowns in Hawaii

Late April two US Marine Corps (USMC) squadrons held their sundown ceremonies at Kaneohe Bay MCAF, MCB Hawaii, Marion E. Carl Field (HI).

On 21 April 2022, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463 Pegasus ('YH-xx') cased its colours and deactivated followed by Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367 Scarface ('VT-xx') one day later.

HMH-463 is the oldest flying squadron of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 24. The unit first activated on 20 July 1944, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (NC) as Marine Bombing Squadron 463. Since the original activation, the squadron has operated on both coasts of the continental United States (CONUS) and in Hawaii. It has also served in all three of the Marine Corps’ Marine Aircraft Wings.

After three deactivations, the last occurring on 30 June 1959, the Squadron has remained active since 1 March 1966. In 1971, HMH-463 relocated to Kaneohe Bay MCAF. Since 2012, HMH-463 was flying the CH-53E Super Stallion. The squadrons twelve CH-53Es will be redistributed among other Sea Stallion units.

HMLA-367 was activated in December 1943 as Marine Observation Squadron 351 in Quantico (VA). A month later, in January 1944, the Marines of Scarface were fighting in the skies over Peleliu and Okinawa. After a 17-year deactivation period, Scarface was reactivated for the conflict in Vietnam, where they became the first Marine aviation squadron to employ the AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter.

Since then HMLA-367 has operated across the globe, conducting operations in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in the skies of Afghanistan. In 2012 HMLA-367 moved to Kaneohe Bay MCAF. The squadron operated a combination of 27 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters. These aircraft will also be absorbed into other units. HMLA-367 is scheduled to be reactivated later this year as part of MAG-39, 3rd MAW at MCAS Camp Pendleton (CA).

The deactivation of both squadrons is part of USMC’s modernisation effort, Force Design 2030. As part of this effort, Kaneohe Bay MCAF is expected to receive a KC-130J squadron in the next few years.

Photos by Rob van Disseldorp and USMC Public Affairs (C-17A)

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