News: HMH-772 flies toward aerial excellence
Story by Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson
FUTENMA, Okinawa - Since its inception, the Marine Corps has adapted to and overcome the numerous challenges and obstacles that have stood before it. And with highly capable units such as Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772, the Marine Corps will conquer future obstacles as well.
Commonly known as the “Hustlers,” HMH-772 is primarily stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, N.J., as part of Marine Aircraft Group 49, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. The squadron is currently stationed in Okinawa as part of the unit deployment program with MAG-36, 1st MAW, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“HMH-772 was originally activated April 15, 1958 as Helicopter Transport Squadron 772 and was a part of the Marine Air Reserve Training Command,” said Maj. Andrew M. Mollo, a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot with the squadron. “Four years after its conception it was designated as Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 772, and reassigned to MAG-43 three years later. In 1972, it was designated again to its current unit name, now HMH-772.”
Along with its many transformations, HMH-772 has a long and illustrious history, according to Mollo.
“This unit was the first reserve squadron to receive the special operations capable designator and is the first unit to airlift the Marine Corps’ M777A2 (155 mm lightweight) howitzer in combat,” said Mollo. “Also, in 1971 while still known as HMM-772, it was the last squadron to operate the UH-34D (helicopter).”
The squadron replaced the Sikorsky UH-34D helicopter with the CH-53A Sea Stallion helicopter, an older model of their current aircraft the CH-53E Super Stallion.
HMH-772 has provided commanders with a reliable capability throughout the years during many operations and missions, according to Staff Sgt. Derek Torrellas, a helicopter crew chief with the squadron.
“(Our) mission is to provide the active component a combat-ready force to augment and reinforce regular forces in major regional contingencies, and to provide relief to these forces during times of high-tempo operations,” said Torrellas. “The training must be such that this integration is seamless. Additionally, HMH-772 will reach out to the community in which it serves to tell the Marine Corps story, establish a civilian support base, and when so tasked, to provide assistance to the community during emergencies or disaster relief (operations).”
HMH-772 has lived up to its mission statement by providing support in multiple real-world events such as Operation Desert Storm, Operation Fiery Vigil, Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom, according to Torrellas.
HMH-772 continues to be a reliable asset and aid other units in their everyday training, according to Mollo.
“We’ve assisted different units in several different training events from fast-roping and helo-casting to teaching how to enter and exit a helicopter and load a stretcher properly,” said Mollo. “We will continue to help support however we can to ensure mission readiness of us and other units.”