Last CH-46 pilot graduates

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story by Lance Cpl. Michelle Piehl

Date: 05.23.2012
Posted: 05.24.2012 15:19
News ID: 88962
Last CH-46 pilot graduates

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – First Lt. Zerbin Singleton qualified as the Marine Corps’ last CH-46 Sea Knight pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 23.<br /> <br /> The MV-22B Osprey is replacing the Sea Knight, making the accomplishment of Singleton particularly noteworthy. Several local news stations came out to record the event.<br /> <br /> “[The CH-46 has] been the backbone of the Marine Corps assault support program since about 1966,” said 1st Lt. Brian Heeter, a CH-46 pilot with HMMT-164. “That proves that it’s a workhorse, and that it has done great things for the Marine Corps and the United States as a whole.”<br /> <br /> The CH-46 has been used in military missions for nearly 50 years, and now is passing the torch to the Osprey. The versatility of the tiltrotor aircraft to serve as both a traditional helicopter and a propeller plane has deemed its worth in replacing its historical counterpart. <br /> <br /> “I think it’s an honor to carry on the legacy of those before us whom have flown [the Sea Knight] into combat,” said Heeter. “All the hard work it’s done for the Marine Corps makes it an honor to fly.” <br /> <br /> The 3rd Marine Aircraft wing is home to three remaining CH-46 squadrons. With only a handful of squadrons left, all Sea Knight squadrons will eventually transition to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons.<br /> <br /> Earning the title pilot was no small feat for Singleton. He dutifully worked to keep his dream alive amongst the struggle of a drug-addicted mother’s arrest and the untimely death of his father.<br /> <br /> Singleton would not be defeated. Despite unfortunate circumstances, the Decatur, Ga., native was a star athlete and valedictorian in high school. He continued his courageous journey while attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.<br /> <br /> Now he holds another honor, CH-46 pilot. <br /> <br /> “It’s just an amazing feeling,” said Singleton, the Marine Corps’ newest and last CH-46 pilot. “I was in the right place at the right time and I was ready for the moment. But really I’m standing on the shoulders of so many before me. I know there are a lot of men and women who gave their life to make this the platform they did today.”<br /> <br /> Living his lifelong dream, Singleton can proudly claim a piece of history as the last CH-46 pilot.