US Marine Corps, June 26, 2009 - Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, celebrated 45 years of service with the CH-46, nicknamed 'Phrog,' June 26, with a large "fly the barn" formation flight and subsequent family cookout in the hangar.
HMM-265 was the first Marine Corps operational helicopter squadron to accept and employ the 'Phrog,' whose primary use is transporting troops into combat; seconded by delivering supplies.
The unit, also called the 'Dragons,' has had several firsts with the 'Phrogs.' In addition to being the original CH-46squadron, HMM-265 became the first Marine squadron to log 10,000 accident free hours in a CH-46A, Feb. 4, 1966. They were also the first to attach AV-8 Harriers, and other helicopters as a CH-46 composite squadron.
The members of HMM-265 are proud of their 'Phrogs' heritage.
"It's pretty exciting to be part of history," said Cpl. Mitchell Ju, helicopter airframe mechanic with HMM-265. "The birds are older than I am and they're still flying."
Historically, the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter was designed by Boeing/Vertol because the Marine Corps needed a medium-lift, twin-turbine, troop/cargo assault helicopter to replace the piston driven UH-34. The first ready-for-use aircraft arrived in 1964.
HMM-265 was commissioned Oct. 1, 1962 at the Marine Corps Air Facility, Jacksonville, N.C., flying the UH-34 type helicopters. HMM-265 received the first CH-46 helicopters on June 29, 1964. In April 1966, HMM-265 was transferred to Camp Pendleton, Calif., and sailed to the western Pacific to participate in the Vietnam War. HMM-265 was then re-activated to Hawaii on Sept. 1, 1977, to re-establish presence in the Pacific.
In February 1985, HMM-265 began participating in the Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa. They continued with this until their permanent re-location here in early 1995.
"It was neat to see all the aircraft taxiing in front of me," said Capt. Joseph A. Alig a CH-46E pilot with HMM-265 and pilot of the 9th 'Phrog' in the formation. "There was very high morale here and all the Marines jumped through hoops with a smile on their face to get everything ready for today."
After a "Hollywood shutdown," the crews returned to the hanger, and were received by their families and friends with a feast of barbecue and potluck dishes.
Col. Robert M. Brassaw, commanding officer of MAG-36, 1st MAW, and Lt. Col. Christopher D. Taylor, commanding officer of HMM-265, concluded the event with a morale boosting speech about the day and the unit.
"I'm very proud to be part of the Dragon legacy, we're real trend setters in the helo community," said Sgt. Maj. Lanette Wright, sergeant major of HMM-265. "I'm very proud of this unit and I'm very proud of my Marines and Sailors."