News: End of an era: Red Lions relocate to Miramar with new commander, aircraft
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay - On May 10, service members, families, friends and other guests attended a ceremony between Hangars 101 and 102 to see off, not only a commanding officer, but also an entire squadron.
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 was redesignated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363, bound for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego. Lt. Col. Timothy Miller, incoming commanding officer, VMM-363, also relieved Lt. Col. Mark Revor, outgoing commanding officer, HMH-363.
Revor lowered the HMH-363 flag for the last time that afternoon. Miller then unfurled the new, bright red flag for VMM-363. Revor, of Apple Valley, Minn., will end his five-year tour at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and attend school at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Alabama.
“Lt. Col. Mark Revor, ‘Rover,’ we’re going to miss you,” said Col.
Richard Caputo, commanding officer, Marine Aircraft Group 24. “You had a challenging command and you did it … when it mattered most. It’s an honor to take the squadron into combat … you guys did it all on time, on target, with precision.”
Caputo then addressed Miller.
“No pressure, you’ll be the first CO of VMM-363 and you’re the man
who’s going to bring it back to life with the tremendous capability of the VMM-363,” Caputo said. “I will leave you with this — protect the Red Lion patch, protect its combat heritage, and protect its colors.”
During his speech, Revor remembered the seven fallen Lions from two Sea Stallion mishaps, one in in Kaneohe Bay in March 2011 and the other in Afghanistan in January.
“I will never forget the men and women I served with, the seven Marines we lost, and the family that the Lucky Red Lions came to be over the past year and a half,“ Revor said.
As Revor finished, he turned the microphone to Miller, who recognized the service members of HMH-363.
“While none of [the service members of HMH-363] will be joining me in Miramar, you can just know that you will be passing on the torch to like-minded [service members] who are very interested and excited about starting this new tradition with VMM-363,” said Miller, of Redding, Conn.
“As with each one of these squadron transitions to ospreys, we reflect on the history and achievements of the unit,” he added. “The Red Lions are steeped in tradition and today begins another chapter with a new airframe as the squadron approaches 60 years of service. I hope that VMM-363 will be able to carry on the legacy that all the previous red lions have left for us.”
After the ceremony, guests shook hands with both the incoming and outgoing commanding officers.
“The Red Lions have a long and rich history,” said Sgt. Maj. Mitchell Green, sergeant major, HMH-363. “I have no doubt that the Marines from VMM-363 will continue to maintain the outstanding standards that have been associated with the previous commands. The Marine Corps is in the process of making a lot of changes in the aviation community and this is a very exciting time to be part of a new era for the squadron.”
“As part of the Marine Corps’ master aviation plan, VMM-363 will relocate to MCAS Miramar in San Diego upon redesignation,” said Maj. Jonathan Morel, executive officer, HMH-363.
According to Morel, the service members in HMH-363 will be assigned to other units, and the newly designated squadron, equipped with a new staff of Marines and sailors, will operate with the MV-22 Osprey instead of the CH-53D Sea Stallion.
Morel, of Slidell, La., like Green has been with the Red Lions as long as he has been stationed at MCB Hawaii. Morel’s next assignment will be with Marine Aircraft Group 24.
“The squadron has gone through other changes of aircraft in the past, going back to before Vietnam, and this is just another step in the evolution of Marine aircraft,” Morel said. “The heart of the squadron and its legacy have transcended these changes in the past and I have no doubt the proud traditions of the Lucky Red Lions will continue as VMM-363.”
The Red Lions were first established in 1952, celebrating their 60th anniversary on June 2. As VMM-363 in MCAS Miramar, its mission will continue to be providing “assault support of combat troops, supplies and equipment during amphibious operations and subsequent operations ashore,” according to Miller.
“We’re changing air frames, we’re changing locations, changing part of our name,” Revor said. “But the Lucky Red Lions will live on in the same lineage that we had … we’ll still be there.”