US Navy, October 26, 2011 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) By Aviation Machinist Mate Airman Amanda Huntoon, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs - Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, the second HSM squadron to stand up in San Diego, prepared for its establishment at Naval Air Station North Island by hanging the squadron's sign Oct. 25.
The squadron's establishment ceremony is scheduled for March 2012, but until then the pre-commissioning unit is focusing on training its pilots and maintenance crew, getting all of their equipment and preparing for upcoming maintenance inspections.
"Everything that I am doing right now in preparation for the establishment of the squadron will be affecting the people a few years from now," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Sparkole Dyeth. "We are setting the future Sailors of this command either up for success or up for failure based on how we put it all together. I am nervous, but we are on the right path. It's all coming together."
There are currently fewer than 50 Sailors assigned to HSM-78, both enlisted and officer, who are preparing the squadron for its establishment. By the time of the establishment ceremony, HSM-78 will have 290 Sailors and 12 new MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
"It is cool being a plankowner at this new squadron," said Logistic Specialist 3rd Class Clint Kear, assigned to HSM-78. "I think that they hand-picked a lot of people to come and be part of the establishment of this command. We have a really great chain of command."
The mission of HSM-78 will be to assist the air wing on aircraft carriers, as well as sending detachments out to the strike groups on destroyer squadrons. They are scheduled to begin deploying in 2014.
"This command is unique, because it is a new standup squadron," said HSM-78 Commanding Officer Cmdr. William Bucey. "The Navy and the helicopter community, in general, do not build many helicopter squadrons up from scratch."
According to Bucey, all of the other helicopter squadrons are going through the transition of changing from flying MH-60B helicopters to flying the MH-60R model. HSM-78 is the second squadron in San Diego that is starting from the ground up.