MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
More than 70 Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 departed for a 7-month deployment to the East African nation of Djibouti, Jan. 19.
“The squadron’s mission is to provide combat troops and supplies at all times and during all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint or combined operations,” said Capt. Peter L. Lisowski, operations officer for HMH-366.
Lisowski added that the squadron will provide sustained combat capable heavy lift and long range assault support capability for contingency operations of Marine Air Group 29.
“I know most of the Marines are excited,” said Capt. Derrick F. Breville, the safety officer for HMH-366. “Most of the Marines haven’t deployed before this.”
This is the first full-term deployment for the squadron since it was re-activated in September 2008.
“In September of 2008 the squadron was initial operations capable and in September 2009 we became full operations capable,” said Breville.
Breville added that the squadron will be conducting its daily routine in Djibouti just as if it were here.
“The squadron conducts training activities daily including confined area landings, aerial refuelings and external lifts,” said Lisowski.
“I’m excited to get over there and do what I was trained to do,” said Cpl. Stead S. Taft, an aircraft mechanic with HMH-366. “It’s about time and I’m ecstatic.”
The mobile United Service Organization of North Carolina was present at the squadron’s departure.
The USO provided entertainment and snacks for the departing Marines.
“This is the least we can do,” said John Falkenbury, USO of North Carolina president and a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “Our mission, as the USO of North Carolina, is to do what we can for our troops.”
This was the first occasion for the USO’s mobile unit to be present at a departure.
“We want to be more expeditionary,” said Falkenbury. “We need to be there when our troops are leaving or coming home, and that’s what we plan to do.”
The Marines received their final brief aboard the air station and then boarded two buses headed to Norfolk, Va., where they then departed for the Horn of Africa.