MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT -- Just a week after receiving its first UH-1Y Venom, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 476 inducted three UH-1N Hueys into the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, April 24.
Two of the Hueys were flown from Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif. where the squadron was supporting the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course. The third aircraft was transported from the squadron’s hangar aboard Cherry Point.
As the Corps postures up to support future missions abroad, various aircraft are being upgraded to allow the phasing out of older models.
The “Sabers” are the last active duty squadron Corps-wide to upgrade to the Venom from the UH-1N Huey.
Early model UH-1s made their first appearance in the 1950s with upgrades continually integrated to help streamline the aircraft’s abilities. The UH-1N entered service with the USMC in 1971 and disbursed the aircraft throughout its operational forces until receiving the last shipment on UH-1Ns in 1979. It was used for battlefield reconnaissance, airborne command and control and close air support. It has participated in each armed conflict the Marine Corps has had a role in since its induction.
Since their addition to HMLA-467’s aircraft inventory in 2009 when the squadron was stood up, Hueys have been used to back Operation Unified Response in Haiti, Operation Martillo and Sandy Relief operations. The aircraft also bolstered support of operations with the 26th and 31st Marine Expeditionary Units.
The iconic aircraft has been a valuable asset due to its ability to be flexible while conducting a multitude of assault support roles, said Capt. Patrick C. De Graaf, a UH-1N pilot with the squadron.
‘’It has been a reliable and outstanding aircraft, loved and cherished by its crews,” he said.
As the older models are phased out, the squadron will receive more Venoms and continue to ramp up their capabilities and thus allowing them to continue to provide integral support to boots on the ground.
“As a UH-1N pilot I will never admit that it is time for the November to be phased out,” said De Graaf. “However, we will be able to carry more personnel, more ordnance and provide more time on station to those Marines on the ground, and that in itself is our overall purpose.”