CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan — Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, the "Red Lions," transferred responsibilities to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, the "Ugly Angels," during a transfer of authority ceremony here, Sept. 7.
Lt. Col. John Dobes, HMH-363’s commanding officer, turned over his command to Lt. Col. Thomas A. Pecina, HMH-362’s commanding officer.
“We are proud of our Marines and sailors for their professionalism and how they accomplished the mission,” said Dobes, about the squadron’s deployment.
During their deployment, the Red Lions logged more than 3,000 combat flight hours, totaling more than 4,000 sorties, while transporting 14,000 personnel and 1.5 million pounds of cargo during battlefield circulations, inserts and resupply missions. The squadron transported International Security Assistance Forces, U.S. military members and Afghan National Security Forces.
The squadron validated new tactics, techniques and procedures of an improved type of low altitude air delivery system. They used a low-cost single point parachute attached to small supply loads and dropped them to troops on the ground.
The Red Lions were also directly involved in the planning and execution of three named operations, and provided follow on support for more than a dozen more. The Marines’ work enabled the squadron to meet the high daily combat sortie rates tasked by 3rd MAW (Fwd).
HMH-362 is ready to take up the reins and continue the mission as the only CH-53D Sea Stallion squadron operating in Helmand province.
The Ugly Angels are happy to serve under 3rd MAW (Fwd) as an aviation asset to Regional Command Southwest, Pecina explained.
“Ugly Angels, our time is now,” said Pecina.
The Red Lions will return home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, after seven months away from their families. The Ugly Angels are prepared to maintain 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)’s role in supporting the International Security Assistance Forces and the people of Afghanistan.