CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan --
A pair of Hawaii-based heavy helicopter squadrons traded reins during a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, March 10.
The Ugly Angels of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 will now head home to Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, after a successful deployment, and HMH-463 will continue in their place, providing CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter support for troops on the ground. Sgt. Maj. Timothy C. Tackett, HMH-362’s squadron sergeant major, spoke highly about the job his squadron did while in theater.
“We couldn’t have handpicked a better team,” Tackett said. “They were simply outstanding from day one. I couldn’t be any more proud of the performance and dedication they showed here.”
Tackett also expressed his confidence in the HMH-463’s Marines and the squadron’s sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Rene Salinas, as they face their new assignments.
“They have a great sergeant major in Sgt. Maj. Salinas,” Tackett said. “I know they will all do absolutely fine out there.”
This marks the second time HMH-463 deployed to Afghanistan after being redirected from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, to support Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan in 2009. Lt. Col. Pete Gadd, the commanding officer of HMH-463, said he knew the Ugly Angels well, having once served as the executive officer of HMH-362. The incoming squadron’s commanding officer had nothing but praises to offer both HMH-362 and the ease of transition between the two squadrons.
“Our transition was seamless,” Gadd said. “The Ugly Angels have always been consummate professionals and this [reception, staging, onward-movement & integration] was no different. HMH-362 welcomed the Pegasus advance party and provided all the necessary tools to ensure our success.”
Gadd had much to say about HMH-362’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Thomas Pecina, and the outgoing squadron’s mission performance as well.
“As far as their performance out here, everyone knows who they are. Their reputation across the area of operations was extraordinary with the infantry.” Gadd said. “Lt.Col. Pecina has lived in the conditions out in the field so he has a special place in his heart for forward air controllers and joint terminal attack controllers, ”
As far as Gadd is concerned, he said both he and his squadron are prepared for anything they may face.
“Our motto is, ‘Supporting the infantry since 1944,’” Gadd said. “As for HMH-463, we are ready to execute.”